Raheem Sterling. Picture: REUTERS/ADAM HOLT
Raheem Sterling. Picture: REUTERS/ADAM HOLT

Raheem Sterling said he allowed his emotions to get the better of him, leading to a brief altercation with Liverpool’s Joe Gomez. That resulted in the Manchester City player being dropped for Thursday’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro.

Sterling admitted on Instagram on Tuesday that he and Gomez “had words” when they met at the England camp the day after Liverpool’s 3-1 win over defending champions Manchester City, which left the latter nine points adrift of Jurgen Klopp’s side.

“Both Joe and I have had words and figured things out and moved on,” Sterling said. “We are in a sport where emotions run high and I am man enough to admit when emotions got the better of me.

“This is why we play this sport because of our love for it — me and Joe Gomez are good, we both understand it was a five- to 10-second thing ... it’s done, we move forward and not make this bigger than it is.

“Let’s get focus on our game on Thursday,” Sterling added.

The Daily Mail reported that Gomez and Sterling had to be separated by teammates on Monday after a “physical confrontation”.

Hard to mix

The pair had also clashed on the field towards the end of Sunday’s match. England manager Gareth Southgate moved quickly to deal with the issue — arguably one of his achievements during his time in the post has been to erase the rivalries between members from different clubs that plagued previous England squads.

Former star defender Rio Ferdinand has spoken about how when they used to join the England camp he and Manchester United players would stick together and find it hard to mix with Chelsea or Liverpool stars.

In a statement before Sterling’s Instagram post issued by the Football Association, Southgate alluded to that.

“We have taken the decision to not consider Raheem for the match against Montenegro on Thursday. One of the great challenges and strengths for us is that we’ve been able to separate club rivalries from the national team. Unfortunately the emotions of yesterday’s game were still raw.

“My feeling is that the right thing for the team is the action we have taken. Now that the decision has been made with the agreement of the entire squad, it’s important that we support the players and focus on Thursday night.”

Sterling has been one of the stars of England’s qualification campaign, scoring eight goals in six games. A draw against Montenegro at Wembley will be enough to guarantee England’s place at Euro 2020.

Sterling has enjoyed a media makeover in his image in the past year with less biting observations of his bling-bling image and more positive headlines regarding his public stance against racism.

Six Chelsea fans were banned — one for life — after racially abusing him in a league game last season. He and other England teammates suffered abuse in their Euro qualifiers against Bulgaria and Montenegro.

The 24-year-old silenced the critics over having a rifle tattooed on his leg by revealing it was his pledge never to touch a gun after his father was shot dead in Jamaica when the star was just two.

He has been hailed by London mayor Sadiq Khan for his campaigning against racism. “I’d go as far to say he’s the best statesman we have” for fighting racism, Khan said in September.


Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments?
Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.