Adelaide United has announced goalkeeper Isaac Richards is set to trade in his pair of goalkeeping gloves for an entirely different pair of mittens, with the custodian set to pursue a career in Mixed Martial Arts.
Richards, 21, joined the Reds' junior setup in 2015 before earning a scholarship contract in 2017.
He made his senior debut in his club’s 2-1 win over Central Coast Mariners in the 2019 FFA Cup semi-final, before making his A-League debut in a 2-1 defeat against the same opposition in round eleven of the current campaign.
"I saw football as a great pathway to get myself out of some wrong things I was once doing in my life and it’s helped me develop as a person,” Richards said.
“I have to thank Adelaide United for giving me an opportunity to be a professional footballer and helping to steer me on the right path.
“I owe them a lot.
“To me, mixed martial arts has always been my own personal form of self-expression. It helps me understand and deal with my emotions.
“I’m excited to be bringing myself out of my comfort zone and looking forward to dedicating my life to my true passion: mixed martial arts.”
Though admitting that he was surprised to learn that Richards wanted to swap the football pitch for the octagon, Adelaide Director of Football Bruce Djite wished his departing goalkeeper well.
“Isaac has made a very courageous decision about his future and we fully respect and support his choice," said Djite.
“It’s not every day a player walks into your office and says he wants to try and make it as an MMA fighter.
“We’re disappointed to be losing Isaac because we have always believed in his potential and football talent.
“Isaac consistently impressed us as an up-and-coming goalkeeper. However, we would never stand in the way of a player following their passion and dreams.
“On behalf of everyone at Adelaide United, I want to thank Isaac for his honesty and his time at the club, we all sincerely wish him the best for his future.”
Adelaide United are set to resume their 2019/20 A-League campaign on 19 July, when they travel to the Gold Coast to take on Brisbane Roar. Much to the club’s chagrin, their remaining fixtures will then likely be played in New South Wales.
On the outside looking in of the finals places following a four-game losing streak prior to the A-League’s suspension, the club will be led by interim coach Carl Veart for their remaining fixtures after the departure of Gertjan Verbeek, who returned to the Netherlands during the competition's COVID-19 enforced shutdown.