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Obituary: Dean Richards

The life and footballing times of our former defender Dean Richards, who sadly passed away on Saturday.

Dean Richards was on our books from September, 2001 until retiring on medical advice during March, 2005.

He scored four goals in 73 Premiership appearances and featured in eight cup games in our colours during a senior club career which yielded 25 goals in 407 matches.

Born at Bradford on June 9, 1974, Dean Ivor Richards was a Bradford City season ticket holder as a schoolboy and attended Rhodesway School. He began as a midfielder playing locally for Sedgeberg Juniors before four years with Queensbury Celtic from the age of 12, eventually switching to central defence.

Having played for their schoolboys side, Dean joined the full time Trainee ranks at Valley Parade during July, 1990. He later credited his City youth team coach Steve Smith as having the biggest influence on his career.

He scored on his Football League debut for City, netting their second goal in a 3-1 win at AFC Bournemouth on October 26, 1991 with a drilled effort from 12 yards into the bottom corner. He made a further nine senior appearances that season before signing full professional forms on July 10, 1992.

His final season at Bradford saw him play for the Football League Under-21 XI in their 3-2 win at Andria against a Serie B Under-21 side prior to joining Wolves on loan on March 25, 1995. Having helped them to the play-offs, the deal was made permanent on May 30 with Wolves paying a then club record £1,850,000 fee.

June, 1995 saw Dean travel to the annual Toulon Under-21 tournament in an England squad, managed by Ray Harford, which included Phil Neville and David Beckham.

Dean captained the side in their opening game, a 0-2 defeat to eventual winners Brazil. He also played in the 2-0 win over Malaysia at Six-Fours and a 1-0 victory against Angola at La Seyne which saw England qualify for the semi finals. Playing their fourth game in seven days, they lost 0-2 to France at Cannes.

After four years with Wolves he moved on to Southampton on a Bosman free transfer on July 14, 1999, making his top-flight debut at Coventry the following month.

His protracted transfer to Tottenham was eventually concluded on September 21, 2001 with the south coast club receiving an £8,100,000 fee.

Eight days later Dean scored on his Spurs debut, netting our 15th-minute opener against Manchester United. We went 3-0 up before eventually losing 3-5.

Dean was cup-tied from our League Cup run that season but featured regularly in the Premiership over the next three years, leading the side as skipper for the 3-2 win at Manchester City on December 23, 2002.

His final senior appearance was at Aston Villa on May 2, 2004 but he did feature in eight Premier Reserve League games the following season before announcing his retirement on medical advice on March 21, 2005, aged 30. He coached the Bradford City youngsters on a part-time basis for a spell from August, 2007.

Dean Richards passed away at a Leeds hospice on February 26, aged 36, following a long-term illness.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.

With thanks to Club Historian, Andy Porter...