Former England defender Micah Richards has said that he was labelled ‘the bling king’ during his playing career because of his race.
Richards began his career at Manchester City. He made over 200 appearances for the club before also enjoying stints at Fiorentina and Aston Villa.
He made 13 appearances for the England national team and also represented Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics.
However, Richards has said that he often felt unfairly treated during his playing career because he is black.
“I found myself having to act in a certain way just to fit in so people wouldn’t judge me,” Richards told BBC Radio 5Live.
“I had just played for England, I was black, I had an Audi and a Range Rover. There were a couple of stories circulating about me and I got labelled the ‘bling king’.
“But every week there was a story about me saying I wasn’t concentrating on football and it took me six or seven years to shake that tag off.
“I remember my agent saying a team were interested in me but they weren’t sure about your private life and I’m thinking ‘hold on, you are judging me, you don’t know me’.
“I knew that I had to change to fit in. I have a personality and I like to joke but for two years in training I was silent because I didn’t want anyone to judge me on my character.”
Richards said that he often felt unable to speak out against racism because he was “scared” of the potential repercussions.
“At times I felt scared to speak out about what was right and what was wrong,” he added. “I didn’t want to say anything out of line because I felt it would affect my career.
“Every time I was asked about it, I would always say my piece but looking back over my career there have certainly been times I have not come out and said what I wanted because of the repercussions I felt would happen to me in terms of how people would perceive me.
“If you are in a white-dominated sport and the people at the top of that are predominantly white males, you don’t want to step out of line.
“It is good that people are using their platform now. We can’t just leave it any more. Not just in England and the United States, but around the world, now is the time.
“I think the tide is slowly turning.”