Raheem Sterling has spoken out on the racist abuse he received in Manchester City's clash with Chelsea in December and questioned the motive of the people behind the inaccurate and misleading stories surrounding his personal life.
Four Chelsea supporters were seen abusing Sterling when he was about to take a corner in the match at Stamford Bridge, with one of them appearing to use racist language.
All four were suspended by Chelsea and police have opened an ongoing investigation.
Sterling posted a response on Instagram the next day where he claimed that the media are prone to treating young black footballers differently to white ones.
In an interview with The New York Times, Sterling recalled the encounter and says he didn't believe what he was hearing at the time.
“The way they were looking at me, I had to see where all this anger was coming from,” the England forward said.
“I was listening in to hear what they were saying. Nah, that can’t be what I heard.”
The 24-year-old, who is again starring in another hugely successful season for Manchester City, insists that the media's perception of him as a 'flashy' individual has always been an inaccurate one.
“From the very start of my career, there has been a perception of a flashy kid from London: loves cars, loves the flashy lifestyle,” Sterling added.
“I’m not saying I’m a saint or anything, but that is the complete opposite of who I am.
“These people do not know me. They will define me by what they read about me; that is how they will treat me. When people are making the public believe you are a character you aren’t, that is hurtful, and it is degrading.”
In 2016, there were various tabloid reports in the British media claiming that Sterling was on the lookout for a seventh car so that he could drive a different one on each day of the week, but Sterling claims that was most definitely not the case.
"These were cars that I had had between the ages of 17 and 23,” he said.
“But they made it that Raheem has one for Monday, one for Tuesday, and so on. All these cars are gone, sold. But what do you do when you sell a car? You buy a new one.
"But they have a picture of me in each car, so the story is that I drive a car each day. People see that and think that’s what he’s up to — buying cars, living the best life.”
Sterling also reiterated his disbelief at some of the other reasons he has made the headlines, including one story based around him visiting Greggs, a well-known bakery chain in Britain.
“There is a lot more going on in this world than me going to Greggs,” he added.
"What is the need for it?” What is the need for this story? Sometimes you ask what the motive is.”
He also continues to insist that media articles about famous black people are framed differently stories about white ones, using Cristiano Ronaldo as a prime example.
“It is not just me,” he said. “Whenever you see a report on a black player or a black entertainer it has to end up with money, or bling, or cars, or something flashy. With a successful white person, it is nice, short, sweet, what a lovable person. Name me one white player who is thought of as ‘blingy.’
“If he is showing you his car, showing he is on top of the world, if that is what he puts out, then call him flashy. But I’m not showing you that, so why are you calling me that?
“It is a stereotype of black people: chains and jewelry, bling and money. These are words that are associated with black people. If I was showing 10 cars on my driveway, if I was on Instagram biting my gold chain, or with two Rolexes on, you can call me flashy. But you can’t label me as that if I am not portraying that.”