After a promising start to his career the 22 year old has struggled to hold down a first-team place at club level, and has taken over four years to accumulate 12 senior international caps.
However Carlos Alberto, who played right-back for the great 1970 World Cup-winning Brazilian side, believes Richards is a special talent.
He said: "I look a lot at my position and at Micah Richards. You see, in my position, right-back, I think I was the first attacking right-back, the first attacking full-back in the world, just because I had the physical condition so that it felt possible to go attack, defend, attack, defend - no problem.
"I watched Richards from his England debut at 17. This was impressive, as he was marking Arjen Robben. Robben didn't get past Richards, and I've seen in the Premier League twice before with Thierry Henry - Richards accelerated past him, and he was frightened to see such a talent at 17.
"He is only 22 and has the experience and knows what he wants and where he wants to go. He reminds me a little bit of myself. He can play with the ball well. I know his original position was midfield.
"To me, possibilities for him to become captain of the English national team seem a very obvious path for such a player. But to become the best in his position in the world would only fulfil the promise I saw in him as a 17-year old.
"Talent and ability like that is rare and I've seen football across the world. He even went out of the national team and has not complained or made noise, he is just concentrating on playing well for his club. And this is the best.
"This one's future is very bright."