“Dressing rooms can be unforgiving places.”
Micah Richards has given an insight into the atmosphere in the Manchester City academy’s dressing room while he was coming through the ranks.
Richards made his senior City debut at the age of 17 after rising through the testing ground of City’s youth set-up.
Recalling his experience with former teammate Kasper Schmeichel, Richards revealed the insulting nickname that was bestowed upon him by City’s Irish contingent and how Schmeichel’s attempts to get under his skin sparked a regrettable incident.
“Dressing rooms can be unforgiving places, especially when you are that young,” Richards wrote in his Daily Mail column.
Micah Richards on Kasper Schmeichel
“I used to get called ‘Mucker’ by some of the Irish boys back then but it wasn’t very complimentary. It basically meant I was s***. I’d try to laugh it off, but this particular day Kasper had joined in the wind-up.
“We had a communal area where we’d play darts to relax. I’d been called ‘Mucker’ one too many times by Kasper, who was standing not far from the board. Stupidly, I threw a dart in his general direction, with no intention of hitting him but hoping to give him a fright. To my horror, I got the angle wrong and it landed in his leg.
“Kasper would have had every right to tell the coaching staff what I’d done. I was mortified, worried I might have done some damage to Kasper and in fear of the possible consequences — would they sack me? — but what happened next showed me I’d got him all wrong. He removed the dart with a wince and the matter ended, there and then.
“It was a turning point in our relationship. We warmed to each other, and before long we had both reached City’s first team.”
While Richards made 245 appearances for City, Schmeichel represented the senior team just 10 times and endured a number of tough loan spells and short-term deals before finding a home at Leicester City.
Richards commended Schmeichel’s career and claimed that the Danish goalkeeper never relied on his reputation as the son of Premier League great Peter Schmeichel, instead grinding his way to the top with the Foxes.
“If I was initially unsure about Kasper as a person, I never doubted his talent,” Richards continued.
“He was the best ‘keeper I’d seen at that age, an incredible shot-stopper.
“He was agile, too, with unshakeable belief. He wasn’t arrogant, just super-confident. Crucially, he also worked relentlessly.”