'My mum told me I'm a black king' - Sterling against walking off pitch in face of racist chants

RaheemSterling - cropped
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The England international does not see himself as a leader in the fight against racism in football but will keep speaking up

Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling will continue to take his mother's example of self-worth and respect into football's fight against racism.

Numerous examples of abuse have stained European football over recent weeks, with Montenegro facing a UEFA charge of racist behaviour after Sterling and some of his international team-mates were targeted by supporters during England's 5-1 Euro 2020 qualifying win last month.

Juventus teenager Moise Kean was taunted by Cagliari fans during a 2-0 Serie A win, where he marked a late goal by holding his arms outstretched to the home ultras.

Championship clubs Brentford and Wigan Athletic condemned racist incidents around their weekend matches, while Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha retweeted a Twitter user who called him a "black monkey".

Since drawing attention to an example of unequal media coverage for young white and black footballers last December, in the aftermath of being subjected to an apparent racial slur from a Chelsea fan, Sterling has been increasingly seen as a figurehead in the game's battle to root out racism.

The 24-year-old explained this is not a role he envisages for himself but pledged to continue speaking out when he witnesses injustice and urged fellow professionals to do the same.

"You hear the talk of leading this fight and I don’t see it like that," he told BT Sport.

"I was told as a child that the only time you really hear the truth, not the truth, but the only time you see the real Raheem is when he’s angry. That’s when he starts talking, and certain situations this year have brought that out in me and I just wanted to shed light, not try and lead anything.

"When I did that post, it wasn’t to try and lead it. It was just to make people see it from my point of view and, sometimes, other players’ points of view."

And Sterling credits his mother Nadine for giving him such courage in his convictions.

"People take it different ways. People take it differently, more emotionally than some," Sterling said.

"I don’t personally feel to walk off a pitch is the right thing because, at the end of the day, we are footballers.

"My mum has always told me I’m a black king. She always told me to be comfortable in my body and to be comfortable with my skin colour.

"For someone to tell me that I’m black, you have to do more than that to hurt me and break me.

"I would be one of the ones to say, ‘No. We’re not going to walk off the pitch. We’re going to stay and win the game and tell them to do one’. It’s as simple as that."

Sterling expressed sympathy for England team-mate Danny Rose, a probable opponent when City and Spurs do battle at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday, who said last week he "can't wait to see the back of football", in part due to his frustration over the prevalence of racism.

"I don't want to go into too much detail, but I've heard stories of his past in youth teams and stuff like that," Sterling said of Tottenham left-back Rose.

"It's something he's come across quite a number of times and it's probably getting too much for him."

He added: "I personally wouldn't agree with [leaving the pitch]. To try and go out and win the game when it's going on will hurt them even more.

"They're only trying to get you down. If you do walk off the pitch as a group, that kind of makes them win.

"To score a goal or win the match, I think that's a better feeling that beats them."