When Micah Richards first started working for Sky Sports in 2020, a year after he had retired from professional football at just 31-years-old, no one could have foreseen him forming an unlikely, fascinating relationship with Roy Keane - but that's exactly what happened, as much as the Irishman hates to admit it.
The pair are a devastating duo on TV nowadays, with Richards constantly winding Keane up with his jovial punditry style and that beautifully distinctive laugh.
While speaking to FourFourTwo in the latest issue available to order (opens in new tab), the former Manchester City defender chats about the relationship he has with Keane.
"He’s one of the nicest, most humble people I’ve ever met," Richards said. "Just don’t cross him. He only drops his guard with people he trusts; I’m not claiming to be his best mate, but I’m someone he knows and has a good relationship with now.
"I think he often just doesn’t let people in. But he’s an absolute diamond. I love working with him."
Richards also clarifies that whenever Keane is annoyed on camera, it isn't for show: it's a genuine emotion, especially when Richards is the person annoying him.
"I think I genuinely annoy him! When we’re talking about Man United and Man City, and I’m laughing and acting the fool, he’s genuinely annoyed. You know when he’s not annoyed, because he does his little smirk. When he doesn’t do that, that’s not an act – that’s real…"
Of course, one of Richards' most iconic lines while working as a pundit is about him 'bursting onto the scene'. Keane challenged him on that statement, but Richards clearly believes the assertion he made about himself, and feels he is absolutely able to back it up.
"Of course I burst onto the scene… I’m the original of the burst!" When people have used that phrase before, there’s been no impact," Richards explained. "When I said it, I got questioned by Roy Keane live on Sky, but I played for Man City at 17 and England at 18 – I would call that bursting onto the scene! I put the phrase back on the map; I brought it from old-school to new-school."
When FourFourTwo asked him how it felt to make his England debut at such a young age and receive so much praise for his performance, Richards describes it as being "surreal".
"When you’re that young, you don’t really think about the media – you just want to play well. Then everyone was talking about ‘Micah Richards to Chelsea or Man United for £20m’ and it was a bit weird. I didn’t quite know how to take it – it all happened so quickly."
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