Micah Richards spent most of his professional career in England, except for a sole season on loan with Italian giants Fiorentina.
The former right-back didn’t enjoy a great deal of success in Serie A. He only made 10 appearances in Italy’s top division.
Richards originally left Manchester City in 2014 in search of first-team football. Pablo Zabaleta was ahead of him in the pecking order. Despite the England international having made nearly 250 appearances for his boyhood club, there was no way of displacing him.
That meant the move to Italy. Richards told the Daily Mail in 2015 that the loan had made him a “better player”.
He said: “If I had stayed at City, I think I would have been someone who simply filled in when I was required. I’d rather go elsewhere and play regularly. Be a bigger part of a smaller team.
“When it came to coming here [Fiorentina], I thought, ‘You know what, everyone talks about English players not wanting to go abroad. I’m going to give it a go’. And I did.”
Richards on football processes in Italy
The foreign experience certainly gave the full-back new ideas and more knowledge about how football works in different parts of the world, as well as how managers can implement different ways of working.
Several Italian managers have made a significant impact in English football. Richards’ former boss at Manchester City, Roberto Mancini, was known for his authoritarian regime. Meanwhile, current Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has banned ketchup at the training ground and demands strict physical standards.
That particular story about Conte caused Richards, writing in his Daily Mail column, to recall a hilarious tale of his time in Italy.
He explained: “He will be tight on discipline and the best evidence of that is the fact he banned ketchup and mayonnaise. It was one of those stories that made me smile but having experienced the Italian way of life, I know why he has done it.
“When I moved to Fiorentina in 2014, early on during a couple of team meals, I put ketchup on my plate. I got a few looks from some of the other lads around the table as if to say, ‘are you ok?’
“They eat fresh food; everything is salad and olive oil. Conte, clearly, demands physical perfection from his players and the smallest details give you an edge. I lost seven kilos during that season in Florence, as the Italian diet is centred on players being lean and light to move quicker.”
Conte’s success at Tottenham
Whilst Micah Richards hasn’t experienced Conte’s methods first-hand, he clearly has a good idea of how they can help players improve.
So far, the Italian boss has had a significant degree of success at Spurs. In the Premier League, his side have won six of the nine league games he has taken charge of. They have failed to taste defeat.
Furthermore, Spurs fans will be hoping that success continues throughout this season and beyond.
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