The Graduates: No.18 Micah Richards
- 13 October 2011 11:44
- Posted by David Clayton
Only Nedum Onuoha has been with City longer than Micah Richards, who is well on his way to becoming the Blues’ most successful Academy product.
In fact, still aged only 23, it could be argued that Richards’ career is still in its infancy!
The Birmingham-born, Leeds-raised youngster joined City at 14. Spotted playing for Oldham, he elected to join the Platt Lane revolution because of the Blues’ reputation for nurturing raw talent.
His power and physique meant he stood out among his peers from a very early age and despite being the heart and soul of the 2005/06 Under-18 team seemingly headed for FA Youth Cup glory, he was fast-tracked to the first team by Stuart Pearce.
Richards made his first-team debut at Highbury as a substitute during a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal – the team he supported as a kid - in October 2005.
Aged just 17, he was one of the youngest debutants in the club’s history and later that season he scored his first goal, a dramatic last-gasp header against Aston Villa in an FA Cup fifth-round tie to earn the Blues a replay.
He remained in the first team until the end of the season, making the No.2 shirt his own after some powerful displays at right back.
His debut for England Under-21s came against Moldova In August 2006, his full England bow came in 1-1 draw with Holland not long after, when he became the youngest defender to represent England.
He continued to impress for City and England throughout the 2007/08 season and as a result earned himself a new five-and a-half-year deal, keeping him at the club until 2013.
A succession of injuries saw him lose his starting place at City as well as at international level, but he was back to his very best last season, with the only disappointment Fabio Capello’s reluctance to re-instate him to the senior England team.
Today, Micah is considered one of the best defenders in Europe and has developed into a mature, powerful and experienced player.
In August 2011 he was rewarded again for his hard work and application when he signed a new, improved four-year deal with City.
As he nears a decade as a City player, Richards is rapidly approaching his 200th game for the Club and his legion of admirers will hope he goes on to play many more – and earn the England recognition he so thoroughly deserves. Right, Mr Capello?