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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2007, 06:19 GMT 07:19 UK
Micah Richards column
Micah Richards
By Micah Richards
Manchester City and England defender

Hello, and welcome to my new column on the BBC website.

It is shaping up to be an exciting season for me with Manchester City and England and I am going to be writing all about my experiences here - I hope you enjoy it.

I will be sharing my news, thoughts and feelings with you throughout the next few months, telling you all about my life on and off the pitch and trying to answer as many of your questions as possible as well.

606: DEBATE

I thought I would start by telling you all about myself.

I was born in Birmingham but I grew up in Leeds and, although I liked Leeds United, I supported Arsenal as well because of Ian Wright.

He was such a great character and he always made me smile with his goal celebrations.

Manchester City and England defender Micah Richards
My dad kept my head right and told me to go for my dreams, which is what I am doing now

I have been playing football since I was very young but I also played rugby in school too - league and union - because of my pace.

I liked it because they just used to put me on the wing and I would score a lot of tries.

When I was younger I did the 100m and 200m as well - I cannot remember my best time for the 100m but I know it was 11 seconds something.

I just loved all sports really but football was the one that did it for me and I didn't really bother with anything else.

I got pulled out of school early because I was training at City. I used to come down three times a week when I was 15 and when I was 16 they pulled me out altogether.

Football just took over really but I was alright at school and I knew what I was doing. I still did my Maths, English and Science GCSEs - and got Cs in all of them - but everything else I had to stop.

Ever since those early days my father, Lincoln, has been the biggest influence on my career. He has kept me grounded as I have grown up.

I am from Chapeltown, which is not one of the best areas in Leeds, and it is hard enough as a teenager anyway - you go through a lot of changes and you can get led down the wrong path.

But my dad kept my head right and told me to go for my dreams, which is what I am doing now.

I was left to do what I wanted to do but he gave me advice and if he thought something was wrong he would tell me.

He has only ever missed one game that I have played in - and that was my first-team debut for City which was against Arsenal in 2005.

I can't blame him for that though! I wasn't even due to be travelling down with the squad and he was actually in Ethopia setting up a soccer school for homeless kids.

He goes out every year and I always try to help as well. I haven't been out there myself yet but I will when I have the time.

FRIENDS IN FOOTBALL

A few of my schoolfriends were taken on by professional clubs but there are not many who are still in the game now.

There were always players that were as good as me when I was younger but they did not have the right mentality to progress - there were other things on their mind.

Seb Hines celebrates scoring against Hull in the FA Cup
Seb Hines celebrates scoring against Hull in the FA Cup

One other player who did make it was Seb Hines, who went to my school and is at Middlesbrough at the moment.

He went through the academy and the reserves there at the same time I did at City but he had a cruciate injury that kept him out for most of last season.

Seb scored a cracking goal in the FA Cup against Hull in January when he came back from his injury and it is always good to see him doing well.

At City there are a few young players who have come through the academy and have been playing together for years - myself, Nedum Onuoha, Stephen Ireland, Ishmael Miller and Michael Johnson.

It is nice that we are all still together and playing at such a high level and hopefully that will continue.

Ish is my best mate - he and I are out together all the time. He has gone on loan to West Brom but I still see at lot of him and I stayed at his house over the weekend.

Away from football I just like to chill out really. I don't play golf like some of the older lads but I do go go-karting quite a lot - that or paintballing - with the lads from City.

We try to do as much together as possible - we all play the PS3 and we are into our music too. Ned is the DJ of the group but I control the music and tell him what's good and what's bad.

This week I have to change my focus to playing for England - you have to adopt a different mentality for international matches

Since Joey Barton has left I have taken over the choice of music in the dressing room too. He was into his indie music and it used to do my head in, you need some R'n'B in there!

Listening to indie music before the game doesn't really psyche you up - you need something with a bit more beat to get you going so we will see what happens with that this season.

Apart from his music, I was sorry to see Joey leave the club for Newcastle in the summer.

You cannot take away from him what he did for the club - last season he was our top scorer from midfield and he got lots of assists too.

You could not say a bad word about him on the pitch, it is just off the pitch that he has had problems. He gets a lot of stick about it in the press but if you sit down and speak to him he is a really nice guy.

It was sad to see Sylvain Distin join Portsmouth as well. He and Richard Dunne made me welcome from the moment I broke into the first team.

He and Dunney had been playing together at the back for five years so their understanding was brilliant.

They have been there, done it and got the experience. They were always talking to me and I could only learn and get better from playing alongside them.

THE SEASON SO FAR

Losing our last two games has been disappointing but I don't think it takes the shine off the start to our season.

Winning the derby match against Manchester United was massive and our confidence is still high. It was an excellent feeling for me to be the man of the match and it was a good day for the team as well.

I won't make excuses about the Blackburn game though - our players didn't play as well as they can and it was our fault that we lost.

But we cannot expect to win every game and we have to make sure we get back on track when we play Aston Villa next.

The team is still gelling too. The new players are all learning a bit of English now so the banter is getting a bit better as well.

We had to keep things simple to begin with though and when I was trying to tell people to get tight I had to do it by pushing my hands together. It worked though.

This week I have to change my focus to playing for England - you have to adopt a different mentality for international matches.

We have two important matches coming up against Israel and Russia but I am confident we can win both games.

  • Micah Richards was talking to Chris Bevan

  • SEE ALSO
    Richards to extend Man City deal
    05 Sep 07 |  Man City
    Eriksson salutes Richards display
    19 Aug 07 |  Football
    Alan Shearer column
    21 Aug 07 |  Internationals
    Football star unveils city park
    23 May 07 |  West Yorkshire
    Man City reject Richards rumours
    01 Jan 07 |  Premier League
    Pearce set to fight for Richards
    29 Nov 06 |  Man City
    Barton & Richards sign new deals
    25 Jul 06 |  Man City


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