Richard Sadlier: 'I sought professional help on my own'. INPHO/Donall Farmer

Richard Sadlier: 'I never dreamed about telling anyone in the dressing-room'

Former Ireland forward says he battled mental health issues while a professional footballer but kept it to himself.

AS THE FOOTBALL world tries to come to terms with the death of Gary Speed yesterday, one former Ireland international has spoken about his battle with depression.

In a week that sees the 42-year-old Wales manager found dead in his home yesterday morning – though no-one is presuming to know the circumstances – and ex-Liverpool striker Stan Collymore revealed he is again battling mental health issues, Richard Sadlier says that he himself kept quiet about depression while a professional footballer in England.

“I don’t want to get involved in any specifics about why Gary Speed took his own life,” Sadlier told Newstalk’s Breakfast Show presenter, Shane Coleman today.

“But moving away from that… that quote from [Aston Villa] manager John Gregory years ago  – how could you be depressed when you’re wealthy or whatever? -  that would have been an opinion that would have been taken by a lot of people in football at the time.

“I wouldn’t have spoken about this publicly before but at the very same time, 1999-00, I was suffering in a similar way myself. Without going into the specifics of it, I never once dreamt about telling anyone in the dressing-room or anyone at the football club.

“Because the attitude would have been that I wouldn’t think it would have been dealt with in an understanding way. And I didn’t even tell my friends because I would have presumed I would have got  told to get on with it, be content with what you’ve got, I’d love to be in your shoes.

“I had the job I always wanted, I was physically fit and healthy. I sought professional help on my own but I didn’t bring depression to the club becuase I would have presumed they would have seen it as a weakness or maybe one of the reasons they may not offer me another contract at the club. And not wanting to give the club any reason not to do that I went off and sought help on my own,” the former Millwall targetman added.

Gregory’s quote about 20k-a-week footballers facing depression was prompted by the admission from his Aston Villa player, Stan Collymore, that he was depressed.

Now a commentator and pundit on TalkSPORT, Collymore has tweeted in the past few days about his latest episode.

“Around 10 days ago, I started to feel anxiety, which grew into irrational fear and insomnia for three days (little sleep and an incredibly active, negative mind) that turned over last weekend into hypersomnia, whereby my energy levels dipped to zero and my sleep went from eight to 18 hours overnight.

“So fit and healthy one day, mind, body and soul withering and dying the next. This to me is the most frightening of experiences.

“It’s me, bed and increasingly despairing thoughts of how long this one will last, a desperately tired but wildly active mind burns through its own blue touch paper until the paper ends and there is simply nothing left.”

To listen to the full interview with Richard Sadlier, visit Newstalk’s website (media pop-up)>

More tributes for Gary Speed from devastated football world

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