Micah Richards has admitted that since moving to Italy in the summer to join Fiorentina on loan, he has missed being in England.
Richards spoke to The Telegraph ahead of his side’s Europa League clash with Tottenham Hotspur and revealed he is looking forward to playing in England again for the first time since his summer move.
Even though the 26-year-old insists he is “loving” life in Italy, and would be be more than open to making his current deal a permanent one; he can’t help but feel disappointed by the way his life at Manchester City came to end after being there for his entire professional career.
After Stuart Pearce gave him his first place in the team at the age of 17 after being the product of the club’s academy, Richards went on to make 245 appearances for City but once the money started to come in, he struggled to hold down a place in Manuel Pellegrini’s team.
Richards said: “If we didn’t get the investment we did, I’d probably be captain now, 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.”
Richards admitted that when he felt he was finding a bit of form, he would unluckily pick up injuries that would keep him out of the side. In a squad with such talent, he couldn’t really afford to be injured as he would struggle to get back in the team, especially ahead of Pablo Zabaleta.
He said: “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’.”
No way back
After turning down the offer of a new four-year contract at City in the hope of moving on elsewhere and securing more playing time, the defender can’t really see a way back for him at the Manchester club.
Richards said: “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 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.”
With the door seemingly being closed at City, Richards was asked about his feelings towards the national team. He has only made 13 caps for his country and was unceremoniously left out of Roy Hodgson’s squad for the 2012 European Championships, admitting that England is a “touchy subject”.
He described the situation and revealed that Hodgson didn’t even contact him to ask him to be on standby for the squad, but it was Pearce instead. The Former City manager was getting ready to lead the Team GB football team at the London 2012 Olympic Games and instead offered Richards the chance to be one of his over-age players.
He said: “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.”
At 26-years-old, Richards is coming into his prime and still dreams of playing for his country again but thinks it will be difficult to get in the side while Hodgson is in charge.
Richards suggested: “Maybe Hodgson just doesn’t like me as a player.”
It seems as though he doesn’t know if he is even in the manager’s thinking for a call-up or has just been forgotten about all-together.
He added: “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.”
At the moment, Richards is focusing on getting his club career back on track with a move back to England in the summer being a strong possibility.
The Daily Mail is reporting that Liverpool, West Ham and Everton are all showing interest in the defender. A reunion with his former manager, Roberto Mancini is also an option as the Italian is keen on bringing him to the San Siro.