shpalman 4 years ago Edited AC Milan, Italy 55 2252 this is an awesome read i've stumbled upon while lurking around. an entire interview with Richards, just before the Spurs - Fiorentina clash. quite long, but well worth the read. Ebullient but with a point to prove, Micah Richards returns to England on Thursday, pulling on the famous colours of Fiorentina in the Europa League against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. On loan from Manchester City, the defender is “loving” life in Italy, would happily make the deal permanent, but is genuinely saddened by the end of his City affair. Richards was the poster-boy for City’s Academy, forcing his way in to the first team under Stuart Pearce, who predicted the player would captain the club for a decade to come. Then the money rolled in from Abu Dhabi. Injuries and Manuel Pellegrini’s judgment began curbing the involvement of Richards, leaving him five short of 250 appearances for the club. Richards is not bitter, voicing only respect for Pellegrini and Pablo Zabaleta, City’s first-choice right back, but a sense of melancholy suffuses his many words. “If we didn’t get the investment we did, I’d probably be captain now,’’ reflected Richards, talking in Fiorentina’s London hotel on Wednesday afternoon. “I probably wouldn’t have left. I had a chance to go to Chelsea five years ago, and Manchester United. But I didn’t feel it was right. I always enjoyed City. They gave me a chance at such a young age . I’ve been a bit unfortunate because whenever I picked up some form I got a niggling injury. With City, if you get an injury you can find yourself out of the team for months. “I’ve got no hard feelings to ‘Zaba’ because he didn’t come as a big name. He’s grafted his socks off, and done really well. There are no hard feelings towards Pellegrini. He seems like a really nice guy. It was tough for Pellegrini to give me a chance because of the form of ‘Zaba’. I spoke to Txiki [Begiristain, City’s director of football] last season and he said: ‘Do you want to sign a new deal?’ I got offered four years. ‘Well, it depends on how much I play,’ I said. “The nail in the coffin was not getting the Premier League medal. I made only four appearances in the league. I can play centre half as well, and wasn’t even considered in that position. Javi Garcia, a central midfielder, was going in at centre half. People were asking for tickets – and I was not even in the squad. I couldn’t come to terms with it. “So I said to Txiki: ‘I’m not going to sign.’ He said: ‘Well, all right, cool, we’ve got to move quickly, we’ve got to get a right back.’ Bacary Sagna is a proven Premier League and Champions League right back. I don’t think it was a bad move. They got him on a free contract. I’d have backed myself to get ahead of Sagna. I know how good I am as a player. “I do feel it is closed now at City for me unless Roberto Mancini got the job and wanted to bring me back in! Wherever I go next, or stay at Fiorentina, I want to be first choice. It’s nothing to do with money. If it was for money, I’d have signed at City. I’ve been playing since I was 17 and until two years ago, I’ve always been first choice so not to be first choice is difficult to take. It was emotional because I was at City for a long time but some day I’ll be back there in some capacity, maybe not coaching, I’d like to scout players. I do love City. City fans have always been great to me. “But I am disappointed so many players have left. It would be a shame if James Milner goes this year because he’s been unbelievable. He gives 100 per cent and proved he can mix it with the big boys. You see players coming in to City for £20 million or £30m on £100,000 or more a week. Then you see a player like James who’s given his all for the team, and the club are umming and ahing over an extra year’s deal. Sign him up. You’ve got players like James who’ll do anything for that club and then you’ve got players who come in on big money and don’t really care and end up going.” The club talk earnestly about promoting the home-grown from their magnificent new City Football Academy. “That’s all very good,’’ replied Richards, “but if a manager comes in and the owner says ‘we want five trophies in five years’, can he afford to risk bringing young players through when you need results? It’s tough for a youngster to make it at City. You have to be consistently unbelievable. There’s a player bought for £20m who’s not even getting a Champions League spot [Stevan Jovetic]. “Patrick Vieira’s doing an amazing job [as City’s EDS coach] in getting the best he possibly can out of the kids. But ultimately it is the manager’s decision whether he puts them in or not. If you’ve got Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, African Cup of Nations winner and World Cup semi-finalist [respectively], who do you leave out to bring a young midfielder through? Eventually they’re going to get their balance right. I always want to see City do well and that massive complex is not just about players. It’s about how many jobs it’s created for the people of Manchester in an area that was not the greatest. “I’m proud of myself for coming out to Italy. A lot of players say they’ll go to Italy when they’re 31, 32 whereas I’m 26, coming in to my best years. It was a brave decision. I always liked AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus growing up and Fiorentina are one of the best teams at the moment, going for Champions League positions. “I’d definitely consider staying. I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve learned a bit of the lingo. My game’s improved. The defenders in England are a lot better one-to-one, and I still think the Premier League is the best league in the world, but the Italian defenders are a lot more clued up tactically. They just know where to be, when to be. It’s like a game of chess. In England it’s so ferocious, more frantic. “I’d have liked to play a lot more games than I have . This manager [Vincenzo Montella] prefers me as a right back so it depends whether he plays with three at the back but I am loving it. I’m eating really well, loads of pasta. They’re strict with the diet. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight since I left City. I’m slimmed down, more ripped. “I was a bit heavy last year. Maybe in England, I’d nip to my mum or dad’s house! In England, it’s part of our culture to have a drink after a game and there’s nothing wrong with that. In Italy, they drink a little bit of wine with dinner rather than beer. “I’m not the romantic sort but the lifestyle in Florence is just amazing. I get up in the morning and there’s sun in the sky. I love Manchester but it’s always raining. I think: ‘Bloody hell, this is a different life to Manchester.’ On my day off I normally go to Milan, do some shopping, come back to Florence and go for a walk around town. I’m not really one for sightseeing but I’ve been to a few of the galleries. I admire the buildings. I do property myself. Their buildings are a lot older than ours. I build houses, more the lower scale. So the style wouldn’t really match. “There are not many black guys in the team, only me and Khouma Babacar, so walking around Florence I automatically get noticed. The fans are fanatical. Every time I play, the fans give me encouragement. They love the wholehearted. “That was the only thing that was going to stop me going to Italy, when you hear the stories about racism, but it’s been totally fine. I don’t know if it’s because Florence is a friendlier place, or because they get so many tourists. I’ve not had one bit of racism, not one little thing.” An English community develops in Italy with Ravel Morrison heading to Lazio, sharing the Eternal City with Roma’s Ashley Cole. “Ash says it’s amazing in Rome. He loves it. I talked to Ravel. It’s going to be interesting to see Ravel in Rome. “Paul Pogba was at Manchester United with Ravel. I know people improve at different stages, but Ravel was always better than Pogba. I watched them both together. Pogba didn’t get his chance at United, went to Italy [to Juventus] and now he’s worth £50m, people are saying. Ravel would definitely suit Italian football, because it’s more technical. I hope he can concentrate on his football and not have any distractions and see how far he can go.’’ Morrison has occasionally walked on the wild side, not always keeping the best company. “I’m from not such a great area myself in Leeds,’’ said Richards, who grew up in Chapeltown. Distractions escalated for a young player at City. “You’ll be at your friend’s house, the next minute you’re just going in to town, and the next you’re just going into a casino. It’s easy. I didn’t want my parents to know what I was doing. I was scared of upsetting them. I don’t want people to speak bad about me or the family. I had to discipline myself.” There have been some interesting detours on Richards’ road to maturity. “I had the ‘King of Bling’ thing when I was coming through. That was tough to shake off. But I was young! I was enjoying myself! I had an Aston Martin at 19. When I didn’t play well, people were saying: ‘Look at him, he’s flash, not even played 50 games in the Premier League and he’s got an Aston Martin.’ I loved the car. “A car tells a lot about the person. Now I’ve got an old-school Porsche –perfect for Florence.” At which point Richards opens his phone to show a picture of the Porsche. “There are a few Ferraris at our training ground. If you drive a Ferrari in Italy, people go ‘well done’. In England, they just think you’re being flash.’’ Talking of which, how is his old City team-mate Mario Balotelli? “I talk to Mario all the time. He’s a great lad but he is actually crazy. He does mad things like that ‘celebration’.” Namely that refusal to celebrate last week’s winner against Spurs, despite it being his first Premier League goal for Liverpool in 13 attempts. “He’s not scored for how long?! He knows deep inside he wants to celebrate! He’s thinking ‘no, you [press and pundits] have been horrible to me, so I’m not going to celebrate with you.’ “He’s great company. I get noticed but with Mario it’s ridiculous. People do anything to get near him. It’s difficult going out with him. He’s an interesting character. He gets quiet and then just does something ridiculous. But he’s calmed down a lot compared to what he was like at City! I just want him to do really well in the Premier League. I don’t care what anyone says; I know he’s got it. His technique’s unbelievable and he can finish. It’s just that running around is not his game.” Talk turned from club to country. “England is a touchy subject,’’ admitted Richards, who won the last of his 13 caps under the caretaker, Pearce, in 2012. Then Roy Hodgson took over in time for Euro 2012. “It was a weird situation because I got a call from Stuart Pearce. Why’s he ringing me? Why not Hodgson? Stuart said: ‘Roy’s not going to take you to the Euros but he wants you to go on standby.’ ‘What? Why’s he not ringing me?’ ‘I don’t know – I’m just passing on a message. But you know I will have you in my Olympic squad’.’’ Pearce was manager of Team GB and wanted Richards as one of his over-age players with Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs. Richards rejected the chance of going on standby for the Euros. “I was angry but then thought: ‘Olympics! In London! Why not?!’ Playing for England is special but this was the Olympics. So I said: ‘Cool.’ The Olympics was one of the best times of my life. Being in the Village was ridiculous! Kobe Bryant just walked past! About 30 girls were around Kobe Bryant, and I ran over to ask for a picture. He said: ‘No, not right now.’ Bellamy was laughing his head off.” Richards still harbours dreams of an England recall. “Over the last 18 months I probably don’t deserve to be in the squad. I’ve not played enough games, or been consistent enough. There are right-backs performing better than me now but I don’t believe they have better attributes than me. People always say to me: ‘You should be England right back.’ “It’s tough. There are players who get in the squad who shouldn’t. I’ve got to make sure I keep working hard. After the season when we won the league [2011-12 under Mancini], and I played pretty much all the season, I was nominated for Player of the Year, and you know how hard that is with City’s squad, and I still get didn’t picked by England then. Maybe Hodgson just doesn’t like me as a player. “I do rate Kyle Walker because he’s great for the Premier League. He’s [charging] up and down. I do like Nathaniel Clyne. He’s done really well. He defends well and he can attack as well. Glen Johnson has been unlucky with injuries. Glen Johnson is more of a wingback. Technically he’s good, good delivery. But there’s no nailed-down right back. “When the Euros were on, I was in Jamaica with Daniel Sturridge. He thought he was going to get the nod so we went to Jamaica to drown our sorrows. I watched the World Cup when I was back in England and it hurt.” Especially when England lost to Luis Suarez’s Uruguay, the team Richards beat with Team GB in Cardiff. “We kept a clean sheet. That went through my mind. I was thinking I could be doing that. Sometimes you have to respect the decision of the manager. It would be nice to get the call from the manager, just to see if there is a chance or what I have to do to get in there, or if he doesn’t like me as a player, if there’s no chance.” Top lad^ source: http://goo.gl/AjzAJn Showing previous versions of this text.