Micah Richards turned down a pay rise at Premier League champions Manchester City in order to complete a season-long loan move to Italian side Fiorentina.
The 26-year-old has revealed he was offered a new deal on higher wages to stay at the Etihad Stadium but the chance to play regular football appealed more to him.
Speaking to TalkSPORT after completing his move to Serie A, Richards said: "“I was offered a new contract and I had a long think about it. I was offered more money at City but it’s not about the money. It’s about playing football."
Having made his debut for the club in 2005, Richards was Manchester City's longest serving player, and he insisted it was not an easy decision to leave a club he's played over 200 games for, despite his lack of playing time in recent seasons.
The former England man told reporters: "It’s been a frustrating two years at Manchester City. It’s my club and I’ve given blood, sweat and tears for them. "When you find yourself not playing, it’s hard. It was so, so hard to leave and it was an emotional day for me.
"The move, which has ended Richards' 13-year association with City, could be made permanent in the summer, though the defender hopes to return one day.
Hope to return
Richards added: "I've been at City for so long and it is my club, Hopefully, in the future, I’ll be back in some capacity because they are a club close to my heart."
Frozen out Richards was an integral part of the side that lifted the Premier League crown for the first time in City's history in 2012, but the two seasons that followed would see him make just nine league appearances.
The emergence of Pablo Zabaleta as the club's first choice right-back limited Richards' opportunities in his favoured role, and he was unable to earn a spot in the centre of defence, despite featuring heavily in the position earlier in his career.
Though he was offered a new deal by manager Manuel Pellegrini, the arrival of French defenders Bacary Sagna and Eliaquim Mangala pushed Richards further down the pecking order, and his desire to play regular football made a move inevitable.
Despite becoming somewhat of a forgotten man towards the end of his time at the Etihad, Richards' legacy at the club was emphasised by club captain Vincent Kompany.
He took to his official Twitter page to describe his fellow defender as a "club legend", and went on to say he was: "Proud to have played six-years alongside this man.
"Clearly a popular man at his former club, Richards may well look to befriend former Premier League rival Ashley Cole having joined him as the only Englishmen plying their trade in Italy's top flight.