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Richard Bates - A tribute to Dean Richards

Published: 28 Feb 2011 - 12:41:56

Saturday saw the tragic passing of Dean Richards, the former Bradford City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur centre back, who had been battling a long-term illness. Aged just 36, the news has come as a complete and utter shock to all those within the footballing community.

Forced to retire from the game in March 2005 after suffering from dizzy spells and headaches while at Spurs, Richards reportedly died from a brain tumour. As players with inflated egos continue to flood the game, characters like Dean are sorely, sorely missed. Not only was he a fully committed and an exemplary professional on the pitch, but he was considered to be a genuinely down-to-earth and humble guy off it.

Renowned for his aerial prowess and confidence in bringing the ball out from the back, it has always been suggested that Richards would have gained a full international call-up had he not been besieged with various injuries during his spell at White Hart Lane.

Despite this, Richards had a fairly fulfilling career. Scoring 25 goals in just over 400 appearances, he racked up close to £10m in transfer fees, with his £8.1m move from Saints to Spurs supplying the majority of that amount.

Regardless of the many highlights that can be plucked from the history books of his time as a professional footballer, the standout memory I have of Richards comes from back in 1995, when he was playing for Wolves against Stoke City in an Endsleigh League Division One fixture.

Having seen goalkeeper Mike Stowell stretchered off following a hefty collision, Richards went between the sticks as manager Graham Taylor had failed to name a substitute keeper. Although he didn't have the best of times - allowing a tame strike from Ray Wallace to beat him before making an uncharacteristic mistake which led to the final goal in a 4-1 defeat - Richards pulled off a blinding save to deny Paul Peschisolido in the closing stages.

It said a lot of the man to step in and take one for the team. Whether he was uncomfortable being thrust into that situation or not, he gave it his all.

Over the course of the weekend, three of Richards' former clubs paid him the perfect tribute. His hometown club Bradford turned over Stockport County 3-2 with a last-gasp winner, Wolves hammered Blackpool and Southampton battered Swindon.

When Spurs travel to Molineux to play Mick McCarthy's team next Sunday, his life will be fully commemorated prior to the match. Passing away two days after the 18th anniversary of Bobby Moore's death, and close to a year on from the loss of Keith Alexander, football has lost another one of its most devoted contributors.

Follow me on Twitter @richardbates_89
DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Richard Bates
Richard Bates is a clued-up, forthright and candid football writer. Every Monday, he’ll be devoting his Football.co.uk column inches to the most talked-about Premier League issues. A West Ham United season-ticket holder, Rich has been accused in the past of having a somewhat blinkered perspective when it comes to his beloved Hammers, but he’ll let you be the judge of that. Follow Richard on Twitter @richardbates_89

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