An Academy graduate, he won the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League the following year as part of the group of players who provided the platform for the most successful period in the Club’s history.
A gifted full-back in both attack and defence, Richards became the youngest defender to play for England when he was given the honour of representing his country at just 18 years of age.
In his current role as a TV pundit, the 32-year-old has spoken powerfully and articulately about racism in football and society and in June this year, he spoke at our Cityzens Giving Young Leaders Summit about his life and career.
Addressing 250 Young Leaders from around world, he also explained how he deals with racism and how that has changed over time, which you can read below.
“It is difficult. I am getting older, so I probably deal with racism differently now than when I was younger.
“I was called all sorts of racist names from police in the area I’m from. I was getting called names from the age of eight to 14 by policemen, the very people who are there to protect.
“Growing up, I had a different opinion of police officers and of people who weren’t of a similar race to me because that’s all I knew.
“[That changed] the more I grew and the more I learnt about certain things in life.
“Everyone is from a different place.
“I was working for Sky when the plane went over the Etihad Stadium with ‘white lives matter’.
“Of course, white lives matter. Some of the most prominent people in my life are white. Nobody is saying white lives don’t matter. Of course, they do, everyone’s life matters.
“For the plane to go over at that moment of time - with what was happening in the world in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in the USA and more widely with the history of racism against Black people - I saw that as a massive disrespect.
“Everyone is from different walks of life so I said I would love to know why those that organised that plane feel that way. Ten or fifteen years ago I would have reacted in a different way.
“Now I would like to learn why they felt they had to fly a plane over during a game. I like to see things from other people’s perspectives now, whether it is right or not and learn why because I would obviously like them to learn why Black people or ethnic minorities feel a certain way.
“I live in Harrogate in Yorkshire and the way some of the older people look at me is like they are looking at an alien. It is weird.
“That’s the older generation. We can’t change the past, but we can change the future. If we are going to change the future, we have got to have that conversation into why you feel that way.
“I deal with racism a lot better now because I see things from a different perspective from when I was younger, and I had just been raised by the situation.
“Now I am trying to learn a little bit more. We know it happens in everyday society.
“I just want to do all I can to help people feeling the same way as me, coming from Chapeltown where people don’t get chances, and now I’ve had the [playing] career I had and I’m moving onto a different sector of my life.
“I just want to help as many people as I can and have a conversation and let them express their feelings.
“It is difficult because there are so many people who aren’t racist at all, but they feel uncomfortable talking about a matter.
“If they can be open to have that conversation as to why they feel uncomfortable then, it can only be for the better.”