Kieran Edward Richardson (born 21 October 1984) is an English professional footballer who is currently a free agent. He plays as a winger, but has proven to be versatile, having also played as a left back and a central midfielder.
Richardson began his career as a trainee at West Ham United, going on to have extended spells at Manchester United, Sunderland, Fulham, Aston Villa and Cardiff City. He has been capped eight times for England, scoring twice.
Richardson was born in Greenwich, London and was schooled at the private and non-selective Riverston Independent Day School in Lee, London. He began playing football at Parkwood Primary School and his talent was very apparent at this young age, he was made captain of his school team and was invited to train with Arsenal.
He then moved to West Ham United where he would begin training professionally. However, before he made his debut for the Londoners, he was signed by Manchester United in 2001.
During his first season at Manchester United, Richardson established his place as a regular on United's reserve team. He was given squad number 42 for the first team, but he failed to make his debut with them.
During summer 2002, Richardson was fully involved with the first team during their pre-season. Subsequently, he made his first appearance for Manchester United on 23 October 2002 when coming on as a late substitute in a match against Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League. He then scored his first goal for United in the League Cup on 5 November 2002 against Leicester City. Richardson enjoyed his first breakthrough during the 2002–03 season appearing nine times and scoring a goal for the first team. He also played a role in Manchester United's youth team's win of the 2003 FA Youth Cup.
At the start 2003–04, he was given squad number 23. This suggested that he may be more involved with the first team than during the previous season. However, during this season he failed to stake his claim for the first team. He only appeared three times, all of them in League Cup and FA Cup.
During 2004–05, he started to become more involved with the first team. He had already made nine appearances and scored one goal during the first half of the season. However, during the January transfer window, Alex Ferguson decided to loan him out in order for him to gain more first team experience.
Richardson was linked with a loan move to Norwich City, but Ferguson said there was no chance as other players had gone on loan. However, when former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson, manager of West Bromwich Albion, enquired about loaning Richardson, the deal was done straight away. Under Robson, Richardson made an instant impact on West Brom's quest to escape relegation. He was a regular in West Brom's first eleven, playing in central midfield. He scored three goals from 12 appearances as West Bromwich successfully avoided relegation, despite starting the final day of the season on the bottom of the table.
At the start 2005–06, Richardson declined a further loan spell at West Brom in an attempt to win a regular place at Old Trafford. He made his break in Manchester United's first eleven in September 2005, when he appeared as an emergency left back, in place of the injured Gabriel Heinze. He soon returned to midfield however, where he made several good performances. In October 2005, Richardson celebrated his 21st birthday by signing a new four-year contract with United. He went on to appear 36 times and score six goals that season.
In 2006–07, Richardson's chances to establish himself in the first team were limited, mainly playing in the League Cup and the FA Cup. However, Richardson felt Alex Ferguson's wrath as the youngster shouldered some of the blame for United's below-par performance against Crewe Alexandra in the League Cup. Ferguson publicly declared that Richardson and others would benefit from spending some time in United's reserve team. He scored one of United's goals in the 4–1 FA Cup semi-final win over Watford, that put them into the final at the new Wembley Stadium.
On 16 July 2007, Richardson joined Sunderland for an undisclosed fee, reported to be in the region of £5.5 million. He signed a four-year contract with Sunderland, under the management of his former United captain Roy Keane. After an indifferent start, it was discovered that he had a stress fracture of the spine. This led to him being out of action for almost four months. He scored his first goal for Sunderland on 29 December 2007 against Bolton Wanderers. Richardson scored two goals in the 2–0 win against Portsmouth at the Stadium of Light on 13 January 2008, also striking the bar to miss out on his hat-trick. Since then he suffered a hamstring injury in training then this injury recurred in Sunderland's 3–0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.
On 23 August 2008, Richardson scored against Tottenham Hotspur in the 56th minute, in a 2–1 win at White Hart Lane. Richardson took a free kick that hit the post three times at Fulham on 18 October, and later had another free kick disallowed as Pascal Chimbonda was adjudged to be pushing in the wall. On 25 October 2008, Richardson scored the winning goal in the Tyne–Wear derby, with a free kick. Richardson attracted interest from Bolton Wanderers in the 2009 January transfer window, but manager Ricky Sbragia insisted that he was not for sale.
Richardson scored his first goal of 2009–10 with an equaliser against West Ham United, which ended 2–2. Richardson was used in several positions throughout the season, whilst predominantly featuring in central midfield he also played at left back – his performances there led to many touting him as a surprise World Cup inclusion.
In the buildup to 2010–11, Richardson committed his future to the club by signing a new three-year contract. Soon after, he became first-choice left back at the club citing Brazilian full-back Maicon as inspiration for taking up his new position, saying "I watched the World Cup and saw the way guys like Maicon were bombing forward – and I thought "I can do that". He opened his scoring account for the season on 22 January away to Blackpool scoring two goals in the first half. After deploying him in an attacking role, Sunderland manager Steve Bruce hailed Richardson's versatility saying "I must have asked him to play in five or six positions this season and certainly in that position he enjoys it, it’s something he revels in". He then added "He was the outstanding player on the pitch. In the first half he was brilliant, his pace was superb." Richardson scored directly from a free kick in Sunderland's next match, a 4–2 home defeat to Chelsea. Richardson made his 100th Premier League appearance for Sunderland at home to Tottenham Hotspur on 12 February, assisting Asamoah Gyan's opener in a 2–1 defeat.
Richardson's first goal of 2011–12 came in a 2–1 defeat at Norwich. Richardson was on target again in a defeat at Wolves under caretaker manager Eric Black, following Steve Bruce's departure. In this match against Wolves on 4 December 2011, Richardson scored the opening goal, a long range shot from the left, and celebrated by removing his shirt, revealing a T-shirt with the slogan "I belong to Jesus". He was booked for removing his shirt. Sunderland went on to lose the match 2–1. Under new manager Martin O'Neill, Richardson began to make impressive progress after being shifted into his preferred left wing position, making another contribution in his team's 3–2 victory away to Queens Park Rangers on 21 December 2011 after setting up two goals from corner kicks. On 18 February 2012, he scored his first FA Cup goal for the club against Arsenal at the Stadium of Light in the fifth round in which he scored the first goal in Sunderland's 2–0 win.
On 31 August 2012, Richardson signed for Fulham from Sunderland for an undisclosed fee, reported to be approximately £2 million. He scored his first goal for the club in a 2–2 draw against Southampton on 7 October.
On 11 July 2014, Richardson signed for Aston Villa on a two-year contract and was reunited with his former manager at Sunderland, Roy Keane, who was Villa's assistant manager at the time. He made his debut in a 1–0 victory against Stoke. Richardson got his first assist in a 2–1 victory against Hull City at Villa Park, sliding in a low cross which Andreas Weimann slotted home from 10 yards. On 13 December 2014, Richardson saw a late challenge on Sessegnon get a straight red card.
After Aston Villa's relegation from the Premier League, on 10 June 2016, it was announced that Richardson would leave Aston Villa on the expiry of his contract.
On 12 October 2016, Richardson joined Championship club Cardiff City on a contract until January 2017. On 29 December 2016, Richardson was released from his contract.
On 12 April 2017, Richardson joined La Liga club Granada CF on trial with a view to contract until the end of 2016–17.
During his stay at West Brom, he won his first cap for the England under-21 team on 8 February 2005 in a friendly match against the Netherlands. After a series of convincing performances for West Brom, he won a late call-up for England's trip to the United States at the end of 2004–05. He started the match against the United States and scored twice on his England debut, including one directly from a free kick. He earned praise from England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson, who described Richardson's debut as "fantastic". He also appeared as a substitute on England's second match in the United States against Colombia.
After earning senior caps, Richardson also returned to the under-21 squad, playing in both legs of the 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification play-off against France, which they lost 3–2 on aggregate. The decisive goal came in the 85th minute of the second leg, when Richardson brought down Lassana Diarra in the box and the resulting penalty was converted.
He then made two further substitute appearances during England's World Cup qualifiers against Wales in Cardiff and Austria at Old Trafford. The latter was his home England debut. However, he was not selected by Sven-Göran Eriksson in England's 2006 World Cup squad.
In 2006–07, he continued to be selected by newly appointed England manager Steve McClaren and made several substitute appearances. He went on to make further appearances for the England U21 squad, for whom he was eligible to play until the end of the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, where he made three appearances. However, he has neither started nor scored for the England senior team since his debut.
Richardson became a Christian in 2007 and said, "I just want to praise Jesus Christ and go to heaven. That's all I care about".
- As of match played 13 December 2016
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
|Manchester United||2002–03||Premier League||2||0||1||0||1||1||5||0||—||9||1|
|West Bromwich Albion (loan)||2004–05||Premier League||12||3||—||—||—||—||12||3|
|Aston Villa||2014–15||Premier League||22||0||3||0||1||0||—||—||26||0|
- As of match played 15 November 2006
- As of match played 15 November 2006. England score listed first, score column indicates score after each Richardson goal.
|1||28 May 2005||Soldier Field, Chicago, United States||1||United States||1–0||2–1||Friendly|
Manchester United Youth
- FA Youth Cup: 2002–03
- Premier League: 2006–07
- Football League Cup: 2005–06
- FA Community Shield: 2003