Sunday March 10th 2019

Toby Yates – UCFB Sports Business & Broadcasting student.

“Raheem Sterling has been Manchester City’s main man this season and he was again here.”

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright’s comments following Manchester City’s 3-1 win against Watford on Saturday. These seem to be words that ex-pros, pundits and fans are saying worldwide as the Manchester City and England star continues to impress and highlight his individual value in a team who’s total transfer cost totals more than £760m.

Sterling scored a brilliant hat-trick against the Hornets in game-week 30 elevating himself to fifth in the Premier League goal scoring charts, on 15 goals. He needs just three goals from the remaining eight games to equal his highest ever league goal scoring season of 18, which came in last year’s title winning campaign.

However it’s not just his goal scoring antics which has earned the adoration and appreciation of the public; but also his maturity and passion towards the way he and others from ethnic minorities are mistreated within the British media.

London-born Sterling has been unfairly singled out in the media over the years concerning a number of personal choices he’s made: buying his Mum a house and getting a particular gun tattoo, to name a couple examples. When compared to the treatment that white footballer’s have received the evidence is quite shocking –  the reporting of Phil Foden in October 2018, when he bought a house, was in worrying contrast.

The forward was on the receiving end of some abhorrent racial abuse from Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge in December, which he addressed on Instagram later in January by accusing sections of the media of “fuelling racism” after his team mate, Tosin Adarabioyo, found himself on the receiving end of a racially motivated news story.

A matter of days later he wrote a letter to a young Manchester City fan who he’d heard had suffered racial abuse – offering his support and solidarity. The personalised letter contained a signed picture of Sterling and included a phrase which has since been used by Nike:

“Speaking up isn’t easy, but easy never changed anything.”

Sterling, who is still only 24, has shown maturity and responsibility beyond his years in the face of media criticism. He was involved in Liverpool’s first team set-up from the age of 17 – was plucked from the clutches of reality and placed in the professional footballer bubble.

In a team full of superstars, with a host of doubters at his back, Sterling has cemented himself as one of City’s main men; a first name on the team sheet. His improvement as a footballer and development as a man will continue to win over the cynics if he maintains his positive attitude, and can become a vital figurehead in England’s quest for silverware.