Ainsley Maitland-Niles has spoken of the time when he was racially abused whilst playing for Arsenal at youth level.
The England U21 international was discussing the alleged racist abuse that Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling received in their Premier League tie against Chelsea last weekend and says he was part of a similar incident a number of years ago.
Sterling has received praise for refusing to react to the incident in the heat of the moment.
In an Instagram post on Sunday, he drew contrasts between media coverage of black and white footballers in the United Kingdom – a disparity he feels "helps fuel racism and aggressive behaviour".
That stance has won widespread support and Ainsley Maitland-Niles has joined those backing the former Liverpool man, while revealing his own experiences of racism from playing for Arsenal at youth level.
"It is disgusting. It happened to me before in youth football, similar to what happened with Raheem," Maitland-Niles said.
"I went out to take a throw in and there was racial abuse behind me. I was at Arsenal at the time, It was an away trip to Germany. I spoke to my dad and he gave me the heads up.
"I only thought they were doing it because I was having a good game. It is one way of them knocking me off my game and making me feel uncomfortable.
"I really credit Raheem for coming out and speaking about it.
"It hurts to talk about it but it is so important to get rid of it from the game."
Chelsea suspended four people from attending their matches pending an investigation, with the club and the Metropolitan Police launching probes into whether the England international was racially abused by supporters.
Maitland-Niles looks set to take part in the Gunners’ latest Europa League clash against Qarabag on Thursday evening.
The talented youngster has missed the majority of this season with a fractured calf bone having sustained the injury in Arsenal’s first match of the season against Manchester City.