After making 246 appearances for the Sky Blues and helping to secure their first trophies under the Sheikh Mansour era, Micah Richards has now revealed what it was like coming through the academy and who he looked up to at the club.
Before a niggling knee injury cut his career short, Richards was considered one of the most dynamic full-backs in the Premier League – especially during his early to middle years at City, with the Englishman grabbing the most assists by a defender in the 2011/2012 season.
However, like all up and coming stars, he had to first march his way through the academy set up for a chance in the first team, eventually getting the nod from Stuart Pearce to make his debut in the FA Cup against Aston Villa – a moment the Citizens cult hero is very unlikely to forget.
The travelling fans at Villa park that evening erupted into euphoria when Richards climbed highest to head home a last minute equaliser.
Speaking to Bwin as part of their ‘The Season Ahead’ series, Richards detailed the journey up to that pivotal point in his career, and who he idolised most on the way up.
“My earliest memories of playing football were probably just down the park with my friends,” explained the 31-year-old. “That’s when you enjoy football the most.”
“As soon as I went from academy to first team training, Richard Dunne was always a person I looked up to, he was consistent. He won Player of the Year four years in a row, that’s unheard of nowadays.”
Indeed, Dunne was a colossal figure for the Sky Blues at that time, mostly partnering Sylvain Distin in the centre of defence and helping to keep a then-struggling City side in England’s top flight.
When Distin left the City of Manchester Stadium for Everton, Richards was then chosen to partner their Irish captain ahead of Sven Goran Eriksson’s only season in charge at the club, with new signing Vedran Corluka put into his preferred right-back slot.
As a result, the Englishman’s impressive form – including a Man of the Match display in City’s 1-0 home win over bitter rivals Manchester United – resulted in him being tipped for glory. He would go on to win a Premier League title and an FA Cup with City, etching his name into club folklore.