EXCLUSIVE Micah Richards interview: I'm the best right-back in the world!
Published 23:05 23/07/11 By Simon Mullock in Los Angeles
Micah Richards has told Fabio Capello that he is missing out on one of the best right-backs in the world by keeping him in the England wilderness.
The Manchester City powerhouse became the youngest defender to pull on the Three Lions shirt when he won the first of his 12 international caps at the age of 18 years and 145 days in November 2006.
But he has only played once during Capello’s three-year reign.
Richards cannot understand why the England coach once again opted to overlook him after recalling him for the friendly defeat against France at Wembley last November.
The 23-year-old believes he is back to his best – and is confident enough to plead his case despite admitting that his view may be seen as arrogant.
Richards said: “I don’t know why I’m not playing for England – but that’s something only Fabio Capello can answer.
“Why I haven’t been given a chance I can’t understand.
“When I came in against France I thought I did well, yet I was left out again for the next international.
“I wasn’t even in the squad. When I’m fit I feel I am as good as anyone not just in the Premier League or Europe, but in the world.
“People might say that I am arrogant, but when I am 100 per cent fit and fully focused then I am as good as anyone around.
“I really am that confident.
“I thought I did well last season but I know from my own past experience that if you want people to rate you as a top player then you have to deliver on a consistent basis season after season.”
Richards added: “It’s frustrating because I can’t understand what’s happening.
“The manager has never explained his way of thinking to me and it has got to the point where I just don’t think about the England thing any more.
“There is so much going on at City now that the only thing I am concentrating on is doing well here and making sure I do enough to keep Roberto Mancini happy.
“If England comes along again then it will be a bonus.
“But perhaps it’s just that Capello doesn’t rate me highly enough and I just have to accept that and wait for things to change.”
Richards has looked in top physical shape during City’s pre-season tour of the United States and Canada.
Yet he fears that City might not be in such good health when the Premier League campaign kicks-off if Carlos Tevez finds an escape route from the Etihad Stadium.
Richards said: “Carlos has been such an important part of this team over the last two years that he’s going to be virtually impossible to replace. I mean, how do you replace Carlos Tevez?
“In my eyes, on current form, he is one of the top three strikers in the world.
“It’s going to be hard and it will probably cost an awful lot of money.
“Perhaps the only way to do it would be to sign Messi or Ronaldo and I don’t think either of them will be leaving Barcelona or Real Madrid any time soon.
“Maybe Mario Balotelli or Edin Dzeko will step up and become the main man up front, although I am sure the manager will want to bring another striker in if Carlos goes.
“If you want to do well in the Premier League and Champions League then you need three, four, or even five, really top strikers.
“But we’ve got to be honest. Losing Carlos will be a massive blow to the club.
“Knowing Mario like I do, he will think that he should be the No 1 man any way. He’s got all the talent in the world and, for me, he’s probably the best of his age group that there is.
“But he’s only 20. Carlos is what? 26 or 27? He’s in the prime of his career, while Mario is still learning his trade.
“To ask someone who is 20 to replace Carlos Tevez is a big ask – but Mario will think he is well capable of doing it.
“Carlos is the best player I have ever had the privilege of having as a team-mate.
“I won’t criticise him for wanting to leave because if it is a family thing then he’s doing it for all the right reasons.
“I can only thank him for being a fantastic player and a fantastic man to have as a team-mate.”