Date of Birth:24/06/1988
Height:5' 11" (180cm)
Weight:13st 0lbs (82.5kg)
Previous Clubs:Fiorentina (loan), Manchester City
He signed from Manchester City, who he had been with since the age of 14.
The versatile defender, who can play centre-half and right-back, joined City from Oldham Athletic and progressed through the club's academy.
He made his first-team debut as a substitute in the 1-0 defeat at Highbury in October 2005 - and he came close to scoring after being pushed forward as City sought an equaliser.
Richards was called into the starting XI for the 3-2 win over Charlton as a right-back and made a great impression.
He followed that up by scoring in stoppage time in the very next match, ironically a fifth round cup tie at Villa Park.
Other fine performances followed as Richards remained in the City senior side until the end of the season.
Richards took the City No.2 shirt during the close season and made his England U21 debut against Moldova in August 2006.
But even better was to come when he made his full England bow in a 1-1 draw with Holland in Amsterdam, winning rave reviews in the process.
Just prior to this Richards had displayed his penchant for the dramatic goal once again, slamming in a last minute equaliser at Goodison Park.
He continued to impress for City and gained three more England caps, but sadly 2006/07 came to an early close for him when a shin complaint that he had struggled with for some time needed surgery.
Back to full fitness for pre-season, Richards began 2007/08 in superb form and took the man-of-the-match award in the 1-0 win over United in August.
He also set up Frank Lampard's goal against Germany for England at Wembley, but his international stock rose even higher when he scored his first goal for England with a typically powerful header against Israel.
Richards ran Steven Gerrard close as the FA's England Player of the Year, as voted for by the fans, and in February 2008 he inked in a new five-and-a-half year contract with City.
A setback came just afterwards when he was ruled out for around six weeks after requiring surgery on a knee cartilage problem.
Richards' versatility was much in evidence as 2008/09 progressed, he played in both full-back positions and in central defence as injuries and suspensions hit the squad hard.
Nedum Onuoha's excellent form in central defence and Pablo Zabaleta's impressive showing as a midfielder eventually saw Richards cement a place at right back.
After a long wait he added to his goal tally for City with the winner against Sunderland in March, his first for the Blues since the Everton strike in September 2006.
Richards started half of City's Premier League games in 2009/10, scoring twice into the bargain, but finished the season on the bench with Pablo Zabaleta being preferred at right-back by Roberto Mancini.
He climbed back to the top of the pecking order with 23 Premier League starts in City's title-winning campaign in 2011/12.
Richards finished the season with five assists - the most of any defender in the Premier League.
City won the league again in 2013/14, but with Richards having lost his place in the side to Zabaleta he made only two league appearances.
Despite this, he was given a winner's medal by Manuel Pellegrini and made 10 appearances in total, including three in the UEFA Champions League.
Richards joined Fiorentina on a season-long loan in September 2014 and subsequently became a Villan when his City contract expired.