End of a dream as Sadlier is forced to retire

By Gerry McDermott Irish Independent 5th Sept 2003

RICHARD SADLIER has been forced to hang up his boots. The 24-year-old, who ironically won his only full international cap against Russia in February 2002, yesterday finally admitted defeat in his attempt to overcome a hip injury that has required two operations in the last 18 months.

"I just reached the decision that I was doing more damage to myself the longer I tried to play. Apart from that, the strain was becoming too much. I was building myself up for each comeback and then being bitterly disappointed when it didn't work out," said the 24-year-old Dubliner. "The fact is that this does happen to footballers and unfortunately it's happened to me."

When the injury first occurred 18 months ago Sadlier was told that he might not play again but set out to prove everybody wrong.

"Whilst I did manage that, it never lasted for more than two or three games. It just seemed that, after all this time, I hadn't really made any progress and the symptoms were getting a lot worse.

"It got to the stage where every day I was getting pain in my back and my hip just doing the most basic of activities."

Sadlier, who had his hopes of playing in last year's World Cup finals dashed by the injury, had been touted as a long term replacement for Niall Quinn in the Ireland attack. Unfortunately, instead, he now becomes a member of the one cap club.

Ireland manager Brian Kerr said: "It's very disappointing news. Richard is a bright intelligent lad and he performed very well at underage level for us. It's a great shame that he cannot fulfil his undoubted potential."

Millwall manager Mark McGhee was even more upset: "I've managed at four clubs now and Richard Sadlier is the best young centre forward I've seen. He had the potential to go right to the top. It is a shame but I've told Richard he can be proud of what he has achieved in the short career he's had."

Sadlier was a product of Belvedere Football Club, the famous Dublin nursery, and actually turned down Millwall's first offer because he wanted to stay on in school to do his Leaving Cert.

He scored 41 goals in 165 appearances for Millwall and is currently studying part-time in university for a degree in sports management.