Richards is an unorthodox central defender, and he has told the official Aston Villa website the reason he is so comfortable attacking with the ball at his feet.
The former England international said: “We used to train with smaller balls and used to have to learn tricks and stuff like that. It is supposed to help with your touch and technique so that when it comes to playing with a bigger ball it is a lot easier. It definitely helped because a guy of my size shouldn't really have played right-back. But it helped me attacking and being comfortable on the ball going forward and trying to drive into positions.”
This ability to attack from the defensive zones was one of the reasons that Richards stood out so much as a teenager with Manchester City.
However, the 27-year-old has decided to change position since signing with Villa, moving to a centre-back role, although he has kept some of his attacking flair.
He is willing to run the ball out of defence, playing as something of a libero, rather than an English style centre-half, and this had both positives and negatives.
It creates a stylish system of play for Tim Sherwood’s men to adhere to, although there are serious issues in the back-line if Richards is caught out in the final third of the pitch, allowing opponents great opportunities on the counter-attack.
Villa have really struggled to defend this season, conceding 13 goals in just 18 games, and maybe instead of roving up the pitch to create chances and help attacks, Richards should stick to his main job - that of keeping the ball out of his own goal.
His attacking skills may be impressive, but it would be wise to hide them away until Villa have secured their Premier League safety and are allowed to play a more adventurous style of play without the fear of losing - and dropping to the Championship.