Too short for Manchester United and Leeds United, but goalkeeper walks tall on King's Lynn debut
He may have been released from four European Cup finalists because of his height, but Theo Richardson walked tall on his King's Lynn Town debut on Tuesday night.
Richardson, who started out on the books of Nottingham Forest as a youngster, then had spells with Aston Villa, Leeds United and Manchester United before dropping into the non-league game.
The 22-year-old, who is out to prove the doubters wrong, enjoyed an inspired first appearance between the posts after arriving on loan from Northern Premier League outfit Cleethorpes just a few hours earlier.
Richardson, who deputised for the injured Archie Mair in Lynn's 2-2 against Hartlepool, said: "I've always set myself to be playing at a good level and growing up through the academies has taught me how to play and being at those clubs has probably helped shape who I am today.
"This is the sort of opportunity I wanted. I needed to prove to people that I could still hold my hold my own even though I'm not the biggest of goalkeepers.
"My aim was to always to go down to the bottom and work my way back up and hopefully I proved to people that going up three leagues I can still do it.
"I've always said that wherever I play I will prove my worth. Sometimes you have to take a step back and in my case I've taken quite a lot of steps back, so me working my way back is what I've always wanted to do.
"I knew I'd have to take a few 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 where I was at.
"I want to show what I'm about. I always back my ability and I'll prove to the people that I can play at these levels, no matter what size I am because I've got the ability to do that."
The Linnets twice led against their second-placed visitors thanks to efforts from Kairo Mitchell and Michael Gyasi but were pegged back through Luke Armstrong and Rhys Oates.
But it was the performance of Richardson which caught the eye.
Just two minutes after tipping Nicky Featherstone's effort over the woodwork, he turned provider for Mitchell to open the scoring thanks to his long goal-kick.
Late on, the Lincoln-born shotstopper was on hand to keep out Dave Ferguson's pile driver and followed it up with an incredible one-handed stop to foil Gavan Holohan as plucky Lynn deservedly held on for a point.
Richardson didn't arrive as a complete stranger to his new team-mates, having shared a dressing room with Linnets defender Tyler Denton at Elland Road and Ross Barrows at Grantham Town when Ian Culverhouse was in the hot seat at The Gingerbreads.
"I really enjoyed it, it's nice to get a bit of football to be honest. It was my first competitive game since November so it was nice to get back out on the pitch," said Richardson.
"Ian (Culverhouse) was manager when I was at Grantham during my short spell there and I've known Bazza (Paul Bastock) for years because I used to play with his son at Nottingham Forest.
"The boys were so welcoming and it was dead easy for me to fit in, that's why it felt so comfortable for me to play tonight.
"Credit to them for helping me settle in so quickly and you wouldn't know that anything is going on here."