Richards is a strong defender and full back who plays for Fiorentina on loan from Manchester City and England. He joined Manchester City at the age of 14 from Oldham Athletic, and spent several years in the Blues' youth system before making his debut aged 17 against Arsenal in 2005. By the end of the 2005-2006 season he was a regular at right back for City, and touted for great things.
After heavy interest from several bigger clubs before the 2006-2007 season, Richards signed a new contract and adopted the number 2 shirt for City. He spent the next few seasons as an anchor in Manchester's defence playing at full back and centre half and he became City's youngest ever captain aged 19 in September 2007 when he filled in for Richard Dunne.
Richards' whirlwind rise to the football limelight continued when he was selected to represent England in November 2006 against the Netherlands in a friendly in Amsterdam. Called up to replace the injured Gary Neville, he became the youngest defender to play for England. Since, he has played for England 12 times, scoring his solitary goal against Israel in 2008.
Despite the millions spent reshaping the Manchester City squad following the purchase of the club by the Abu Dhabi United Group, Richards has remained a core team member under Mark Hughes and then Roberto Mancini. His versatility, reliability and leadership at the back have made him a critical player for the club going forward. Richards won his first football honours when City won the FA Cup in 2011.