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Former England international Richards retires

Shrewsbury Town v Aston Villa: Pre-Season Friendly

SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 15: Micha Richards of Aston Villa during the pre-season friendly match between Shrewsbury Town and Aston Villa at Greenhous Meadow on July 15, 2017 in Shrewsbury, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

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A decade ago, Micah Richards appeared to be setting up a career as one of England’s starting centerbacks for many years to come. Unfortunately, injuries took their toll and ended what was once a very promising career.

Richards announced his retirement on Friday in conjunction with Manchester City in order to focus on unspecified business ventures as well as take an “ad hoc off-the-field role” with his former club. A recurring right knee injury derailed his career, which grew to great heights at Man City but ended up seeing him spend time at Fiorentina for a season before struggling to see the field regularly with Aston Villa over the past four years.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

“Once a blue, always a blue,” Richards said in a statement. “City has always been my spiritual home and where I enjoyed my best years as a player. Being part of the side that ended the long wait for silverware - in 2011 and 2012 - was very special. It kick-started this new era and the club has never looked back. What has happened since has been amazing. I feel lucky to have been asked back to help spread the City message and can’t wait to get going. I know it will be fun because City fans are incredible and always have been.”

Richards starred for Man City’s youth academy more than a decade ago, so much so that then-manager Stuart Pearce handed Richards his first-team debut as a 17-year-old in 2015. Richards quickly became a constant in the side and even made his debut as a right back for England a year later, becoming England’s youngest defender to play a senior match at the time.

Richards then played a key role in the years that followed as Man City rose in the Premier League standings, culminating with a famous Premier League title in 2012. That proved to be the peak of his career.

A few months later, Richards suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee. Despite having successful surgery, Richards lost his place in the side under Roberto Mancini, and he began the journey through the wilderness, looking for a starting place while struggling to stay fit.

A loan move to Fiorentina was unsuccessful and Richards failed to stay healthy enough to play much with Aston Villa. In fact, he hasn’t played since 2016 due to recurring knee injuries.

Had things gone differently, Richards could have been an England superstar and have led England to the World Cup semifinals. Perhaps in another world too, Richards, a former teammate of Claudio Reyna, could have come to New York City FC and played in MLS.

Alas, it’s another sad story of a promising player who’s injury was cut way too short. Thankfully, he appears to be in good spirits and still has a long life ahead of him off the field, where he can find plenty of success.