The 19 year-old told the Observer: "I'm a passionate sort of player. I'd love to be captain one day.
"I used to watch JT when I was a young lad. He was one of the players I tried to model myself on. The biggest influence on my career so far, though, has been Richard Dunne. He's been unbelievably good for me. Playing next to him has been great. He talks to me and gets me into the right position, stops me chasing people all over the place. I'm still learning, but I feel I've got a good teacher. I'd have to give a lot of credit to Stuart Pearce, too, for giving me a debut at 17. That was a big vote of confidence."
Confidence is perhaps the quality Richards exudes more than any other.
"I don't get nervous on the pitch," he says. "As soon as you cross the white line and the first ball is kicked there's a game on and you can blank everything else out. There are times, too, when I sit back and think, 'Wow, I've come a long way in a short time.' I can't lie, I do still think that. But from where I am now, it's better to look forward. That's just as good."