Richie Sadlier Reveals He Missed Millwall Games To Get Circumcised

Richie Sadlier Reveals He Missed Millwall Games To Get Circumcised

The subject of footballers missing games for non-footballing reasons was a prominent one on Thursday's Second Captains.

On Sunday, Austria will be without fullback Andreas Ulmer as his wedding clashes with the World Cup qualifier against Ireland at the Aviva.

The conversation led to Richie Sadlier detailing his own experience of being unavailable for reasons other than suspension or a football-related injury.

20 years ago, while playing for Millwall, the young striker required surgery to a delicate part of his anatomy.

It was in 1997. I was 18 and I was getting circumcised.

I was at a stage in my life where I was sexually active. As a result of this, I required surgical modification.

Sadlier admitted that he had suffered an injury which meant he would have to undergo the procedure. Though, he didn't further elaborate on the injury, 'We'll leave it at that.'

The surgery would require time off from his first-team duties at Millwall. That meant an awkward conversation with his manager Billy Bonds - a terrifying figure for the 18-year-old Sadlier.


The Millwall physio and medical staff were aware of my predicament. I either have this operation or remain sexually inactive. It involved getting the all clear from the manager at the time who was Billy Bonds, one of the world's most intimidating men to me at that stage. I was 18, he was in his 50s, he was this rock of a man, I was far from that.

I had to traipse up to his office to put the case forward that me missing games for the next two the three weeks was the right thing to do, that there was a bigger picture here.

It was one of the most horrendous experiences I've ever had. I went up into his office, sat down and mumbled my way through the conversation. I was bright red the whole time scratching my head, avoiding eye contact.

I was as uncomfortable as a kid can be having to say to him, 'Can I have this done?' He goes, 'Does it hurt you when you run?' I said, 'No boss. I'm actually grand, I can run fine.' He said, 'Does it hurt you when you strike a ball?' I said, 'No, no, no, it's fine,'

Bonds couldn't quite grasp what the problem was for Sadlier. The Dubliner had to go into some deeper detail. Eventually, Bonds acquiesced to Sadlier's request.

After browsing a tight fixture list, it was decided that Sadlier would have to miss some games.

As best I could, I directed him away from the football pitch to where the real problem was. In fairness to him, he goes, 'OK. Fair enough.'

We looked at the fixture list. Between league matches and underage internationals, which I was expecting to be involved in, there was no natural gap in the fixture list.

I was in the first team at the time which made it really awkward because anyone who doesn't play in a team, it has to be explained.

I didn't want anyone to know about this but I wanted to go home for a weekend or a week so I had to explain to my mother why I was going home. It was awful.

The reason for his absence was a subject he was unable to keep under wraps, so to speak. His teammates found out, as did a section of the Millwall fanbase. It resulted in him getting a nickname which stuck for quite a while.

They all knew. You can't keep something like that to yourself in a dressing room.

Some of the supporters found out as well. I think there was a line in the programme which said I was off for a 'medical procedure'. That, of course, invites the question, 'What medical procedure?'

I got the nickname, which stuck for many years, 'Knobby', among certain sections of the supporters.

Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Quiz: Name The Ireland Starting XI From The Last Time Austria Played In Dublin

PJ Browne
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