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Unrelenting on the pitch, uncomplicated off of it: The Omar Richards journey in Bavaria so far

From a locker between Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry to settling in as a resident of Munich city.

FC Bayern Muenchen Performance Diagnostics Photo by M. Donato/Getty Images for FC Bayern

Bayern Munich’s fullback, Omar Richards recently completed the customary first German interview. Richards spoke at length about his journey so far with Bayern and in Germany. The 24 year-old’s expressed his will to integrate beyond just the team and into the culture of the city and the country, starting with the language.

Moving from the second division in England to a European giant like Bayern Munich has been a dream come true for the former Reading FC player. “I discovered my name on the locker between Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sané. That was incredible. It took me a while to realise that they’re all just normal people, no matter what they can do on the pitch. Everyone gave me a warm welcome. At the beginning, a few players were still on holiday, but at some point, the team was complete for the first time. One superstar walked in after another - that’s when I finally realised: Wow, I’m really at Bayern Munich!” said Richards, reminiscing his first day at Säbener Straße.

FC Bayern München - Training Session Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Having gained the appreciation of Julian Nagelsmann for his work ethic, Richards gave an insight into his attitude on the pitch. “In my life, nothing was handed to me on a plate, I worked for everything. On the pitch, I used to be almost embarrassed when I lost the ball. I always wanted to win it back as quickly as possible. I also always want to win. I’ll do anything for that.”

Richards also feels he has improved during his time with Bayern so far. Being surrounded by exceptional talent aiming for the highest achievements, has benefitted the defender to take his game to the next level. “In training or during a game, there are always moments when I think: Brilliant, that’s magic! Then I almost scream because I can hardly believe what my teammate has just done. I desperately want to reach that level too. And to do that, I’m in exactly the right place. I feel like I’m learning every day, that I’m constantly adding new elements to my game, just because I’m surrounded by this quality. I think I’m already a better player than I was last summer.”

FC Bayern München - Training Session Photo by L. Theising/FC Bayern via Getty Images

Richards did not forget to mention Kimmich’s role in helping him settle at Bayern, “Joshua Kimmich. From day one until today. He asks how I’m doing, gives me tips on what I can do to improve. I appreciate that very much. Joshua is like a big brother to me. He understands that it’s not so easy to move to a foreign country, to go from a small team to one of the best clubs in Europe.”

Off the pitch, Richards likes to spend time with friends and family. “In my private life, I’m very different to how I am on the pitch - relaxed and relatively uncomplicated, I’d say. I like to spend time with my family and friends, watch films or play on the console. What I also like to do is go bowling. I found a good bowling alley just around the corner from my place. Sometimes I go there with a couple of guys from the team, Alphonso, or Jamal for example.”

Besides bowling and gaming Richards also likes to travel to the countryside and expressed his joy during his visit to Garmisch. “Oh yes! I went to Garmisch. The scenery there is so beautiful, so different to South London where I grew up. It seems almost surreal to me. I never thought I would enjoy being out in the countryside so much.”

FC Bayern Munich - Training Photo by Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

Richards, keen on learning the history of Munich, reflected on his visit to the concentration camp in Dachau, “I just want to know where I live, what I’m now a part of. Munich is full of history, and Dachau is a part of that. We talked about it in German class. When I heard you could visit the concentration camp, I really wanted to do that. To find out what happened there. To see it for myself and get a sense of it. Afterwards I had very mixed feelings, I thought about it a lot. I also asked myself: How can I feel so comfortable in a country where this happened? I had to think about that. What I like is how Germany deals with its own history. That it’s talked about, that you can visit such places and that you are aware of your own responsibility.”

With his intent to continuously improve on pitch while at the same time learning the language, history and culture, a signing like Richards warms the heart of fans. “I’m now a Munich resident, I want to integrate as well as possible. To do that, I have to learn German. For me, it’s also a question of respect for the country and the people here. It’s not enough for me to just understand the coach and the team. I also want to be able to cope when I’m out and about in the city on my own.”

Best wishes to Richards and hope he realises his ambitions and brings a lot of joy to the club and the fans. Good luck Omar! The journey has just begun.