Kieran Richardson credits Villa No.2 Roy Keane as the man who helped him through the toughest time of his career.
Richardson played alongside the Irishman at Man Utd and was later managed by him at Sunderland.
The early part of his spell at the Stadium of Light was hampered by a hairline fracture on his spine which led to a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Richardson admits the injury left him feeling dejected and out of shape.
But a long conversation with Keane inspired the utility player to return in better condition than ever.
"That season when I signed for Sunderland I think I only played 10 games because I had a hairline fracture in the L5 vertebrae in my spine," said Richardson.
"Throughout that season I was very upset, I put on a lot of weight and I got bigger.
"But just before the end of that season, Roy took me into his office and we had a massive conversation.
"He inspired me to go away in the summer and come back in better shape than I had ever been in.
"I went and played very well in the next season.
"He gave me some good words of encouragement to go and do that over the summer and I appreciate that."
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