'I’ve been at some of the biggest clubs in the world' - Linnets new keeper

King's Lynn Town keeper Theo Richardson - formerly of Manchester United and Leeds

New King's Lynn Town keeper Theo Richardson with Tyler Denton - Credit: Ian Burt

New King’s Lynn Town signing Theo Richardson makes no bones about it – he has a list as long as your arm of people he wants to prove wrong. 

The 22-year-old goalkeeper made his debut on Tuesday night, performing heroics as Lynn held second-placed Hartlepool to a 2-2 draw – 24 hours after he first realised his season was about to start again. 

“It’s nice to actually get a bit of football to be honest,” he said. “That was my first competitive game since November, so it was nice to get some minutes and get back out on the pitch.” 

Richardson’s pedigree is more than impressive – his clubs include Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa, Leeds and Manchester United. 

“I’ve probably been at some of the biggest clubs in the world, never mind the country,” said Richardson. “I have always set myself up to become obviously playing at a good level. Growing up through the academies has taught me how to play and being at those clubs has probably helped shape who I am today.” 

King's Lynn Town's Theo Richardson -formerly of Manchester United and Leeds

Theo Richardson smothers the ball during his King's Lynn Town debut against Hartlepool - Credit: Ian Burt

Who he is today is a young keeper on loan for a month at The Walks from Cleethorpes Town, who play in the Northern Premier League’s South East Division – and one determined to claw his way back up the footballing ladder. 

His problem? A lack of height. At five foot 10 he doesn’t add up for some managers. Which is why, still in his teens, he has been released by some of the country’s biggest clubs. At Old Trafford he was signed by Jose Mourinho, playing alongside the likes of Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay for United’s Under-23s. But in the summer of 2018 was released. 

But Mourinho’s loss could be Ian Culverhouse’s gain. For the first time under his management he has two keepers, albeit the reason Richardson was brought in was because of an injury to Norwich City loanee Archie Mair.  

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As auditions go, it wasn’t bad – he will be credited with the assist for Kairo Mitchell’s 17th-minute opener on Tuesday, his long punt down field bang on the striker’s toes, but saved his best for much later when he made a magnificent one-handed save down low to his left to deny Gavan Holohan and Hartlepool what would surely have been a heart-breaking winner. 

“This is the sort of opportunity I wanted,” added Richardson. “Playing at the level I was I needed to go down and needed to prove to people that I could still hold my own, even though I am not the biggest of goalkeepers, so my aim was to always go down to the bottom and prove to those who thought I couldn’t, and then work my way back up. 

“Hopefully I proved to people tonight that going up three leagues didn’t make a difference to me. 

Tyler Denton - King's Lynn Town v Hartlepool

Tyler Denton during King's Lynn Town's draw with Hartlepool - Credit: Ian Burt

“Wherever I play I will prove my worth and wherever I have played I always think that I have proved my worth. So it was a case of me sometimes having to take a step back – in my case I have taken quite a lot of steps back. So me working my way back up is what I have always wanted to do. I knew that I would have to take some hits along the way, but this is a good stepping stone for me. 

“Not many 19-year-olds have been released by four clubs of the magnitude that I was at and then said, you know what, I am forgetting about the people that doubted you, I am going to go and play for Cleethorpes Town - going down I will prove my worth. 

“This is an opportunity for me to broadcast and show what I am about. I always back my ability.  

“No one has ever told me no I am not good enough so I am going to turn around and prove to the people who said you are not able to play at these levels. I will prove to the people that I can play at these levels, no matter what size I am, because I have the ability to do that.” 

The late save from Holahan was something else - and repaid two men he has known for a while – he was at Forest as a youngster with Lynn’s assistant manager and former keeper Paul Bastock’s son and signed for Grantham during Culverhouse’s short spell there as manager at the beginning of the 2018-19 season.