By Gerard Mulreaney (@gerardmulreaney)
Former Millwall and Republic of Ireland striker has penned his autobiography, with the assistance of Joe.ie journalist Dion Fanning.
While most footballing autobiographies are uninteresting, Recovering is an open and extremely honest portrayal of his life to date.
From the opening chapter, where he talks about his father’s alcoholism, and how he says that he’ll never go down that route, only to eventually do just that. Reading that opening chapter I felt it could be a scene from most households all across the country, mine included, so it hit home very early and sucked me in.
He said that he always attempts to avoid conflict, mostly by ignoring it in the hope that it will go away. It’s something many of us do. Richie felt that he was never good enough to be a Professional footballer and that he would be ‘found out’ eventually. He always had a voice in his head telling him so.
The book deals with his struggles in England initially, him wanting to make an immediate impact at Millwall, and how his debut for the club actually came about. He explains the culture of Millwall Football Club, the need to be hard, to never showing weakness. It’s something he found difficult early on, but eventually he found himself sort of enjoying it.
He explains why he started drinking in the first place, and how it eventually spiralled out of control. The blackouts, the memory losses, and also needing to get that same high ever time he went drinking. It also took him down the road of drug taking, something he doesn’t necessarily go into in much detail.
Richie talks about having a drink problem, and being an alcoholic, but not about being a drug-addict. I was curious about that, and I asked him why. He said, “Some people who have problematic relationships with drink and drugs describe themselves as cross-addicted, but I’ve never taken a drug without drinking first. My primary problems with drink – and in some ways this is all incidental once you accept you need to get sober, and remain sober.”
He talks about his time at Millwall, being a target of the-boo boys, playing for Ireland (both at underage and at senior level), retiring from the game due to persistent injuries and how he dealt with all that. There’s a story about Ireland’s most capped International Steven Staunton and current Manager Mick McCarthy too.
One funny story about his short-lived spell at Sunderland was when he spoke to then manager Roy Keane about what he was going to do after retirement. Richie mentioned he might do some media work and Keane said ‘Don’t be another one who says nothing. If you do get work in that area, tell its like it is.’ I think it’s fair to say that he’s done that.
There’s stories about his relationship with John Giles and in particular Eamon Dunphy. He talks about his time as CEO at St Patrick’s Athletic, working in the media and especially his time on the Second Captain’s podcast.
When he finally decides it’s time to stop drinking Richie tells us why.
He also speaks about becoming a Psychotherapist, and the work he now does in that field.
It’s a fascinating read and one I’d highly recommend.
Recovering, by Gill Books, is available at all good book shops.