Sterling defends controversial gun tattoo

GFX Raheem Sterling tattoo EnglandGetty

Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling has defended his new tattoo of a gun, after coming in for criticism for the ink.

Pictures of Sterling training with the Three Lions squad showed the tattoo of an M16 rifle, prompting anti-gun campaigners to publicly lambast the 23-year-old.

One such campaigner insisted Sterling should not play for his country again while he has the tattoo, telling The Sun newspaper that he should have it removed immediately.

Raheem Sterling tattoo England

However, he has now explained the reason behind the ink, revealing that it is a tribute to his late father, who was shot and killed when he was just two.

Writing on Instagram, Sterling said: "When I was 2 my father died from being gunned down to death. I made a promise to myself I would never touch a gun in my lifetime.

"I shoot with my right foot so it has a deeper meaning, and is still unfinished."

Sterling has been in excellent form this season, scoring 23 goals and providing 17 assists in all competitions, with City ultimately winning the Premier League and the Carabao Cup.

The winger has won 37 England caps, scoring twice, and is set to start as Gareth Southgate's team take on Tunisia, Panama and Belgium in the group stage of the World Cup this summer.