Pep Guardiola has hailed an "incredible gesture" from Raheem Sterling after the Manchester City forward gave 500 tickets for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley to children from his old school.
Sterling grew up in Wembley and attended Copland Community School, which is now known as Ark Elvin Academy.
Ten pupils from the school visited Manchester this week for a tour of the Etihad Stadium before meeting Sterling and Guardiola offered a glowing assessment of his forward, who continues to grow in stature on and off the pitch.
"It's an incredible gesture, nice," he told a pre-match news conference. "I think these kind of gestures make a better society for everybody.
"Football players are human beings. We live all together and these kinds of gestures dignify who he is, the club and everybody. I like it."
'We're about ten mins away from Wembley - most pupils have never been there’@sterling7 arranged for 500 pupils from his old school @ArkElvinAcademy to watch his FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) April 5, 2019
Jubil Kunnassery, head of PE, says they’re grateful he remembers where he’s come from. pic.twitter.com/ZRe7hRn8eP
Sterling's generosity was not the only ticketing item on the agenda for Guardiola after City failed to sell out their allocation for the semi-final.
A 17:30 pm local time start, limited late public transport provision back to Manchester, three London matches in the space of eight days and the overall expense of City's fourth trip to Wembley this season have all been cited as factors in the relatively limited uptake.
"Really, honestly, I don't know the reason why," Guardiola added.
"Maybe the club could answer this question better than me. Always I am alongside the fans, not just our fans.
"When they can go, they will go. When they cannot, they don't go. Maybe for different reasons. Honestly, I don't know."