MICAH RICHARDS: Joining Fiorentina was one of the best decisions of my career… my beloved Florence is yearning for a football renaissance by ending a 22-year wait for silverware against West Ham
- I was nervous when I joined Fiorentina, but it turned out to be a great decision
- It’s a city that loves football, and winning a trophy would be huge for Fiorentina
- I would also be happy for David Moyes if he can end West Ham’s wait for a trophy
There are two versions of each story around an ending. It might seem like an obvious thing to say, but I’m not sure we really think about it, especially when an English side are aiming for a European trophy.
It’s fantastic to see the excitement around West Ham. Their fans came to Prague in huge numbers and it would be huge for them to win the Europa Conference League, but don’t think they are the only ones with dreams. Fiorentina’s sense of destiny is just as strong.
Fiorentina will always hold a special place in my heart. I joined them in September 2014 on loan and, while I had reservations at first, within weeks they had been banned. It turned out to be one of my best decisions, the opportunity to experience a different culture in one of the most historic cities in the world.
They were a club that knew they couldn’t take on the Serie A giants in one season, but it was the perfect place for talent to come. In our squad we had Federico Bernardeschi, Mohamed Salah, Marcos Alonso and Stefan Savic. Alberto Aquilani, Marko Marin and Mario Gomez provided the experience.
I would compare it to Newcastle or Liverpool in terms of how football is viewed in the city. The people of Florence are in love with their team.
Joining Fiorentina was a big decision for me, but it turned out to be one of my best calls
Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Italiano will know how much football means to the city of Florence
My highlight was the night we beat Juventus in the Coppa Italia, 2-1 in Turin, when Salah scored a goal that told me he was going to the top.
The result came against all odds and the welcome we received was unlike anything I had ever seen. When we got back to the downtown station, the fans lined the streets and then ran with the bus to the training ground. You would have thought we had just won the World Cup, not the first leg of a knockout game.
And that’s what I mean by the fact that passion is a two-way thing. Fiorentina have won just one European trophy in their history – the 1961 Cup Winners’ Cup – and the last time they got their hands on silverware was the Coppa Italia in 2001.
I can’t stress enough that these fans are going to be praying for this to be their moment in the sun. The team may not have many household names, but it would be a huge mistake to discount them.
Sofyan Amrabat will bear the responsibility of trying to give Fiorentina the kind of pinnacle they haven’t seen since the days of Gabriel Batistuta, and his battle with Declan Rice will go a long way in determining which team wins the trophy.
I have an affinity for Fiorentina, but would love to see David Moyes have his moment too. I have followed David closely since he loaned Dickson Etuhu, one of my former Manchester City team-mates, to Preston.
He is a man of principles, his teams work tirelessly and he never stopped showing everyone what he was capable of. It’s time to win a trophy.
I would also be happy for David Moyes if West Ham win as he has done a good job at the club