England Midfielder Raheem Sterling has expressed his disbelief over the negative light often cast on him by the English media.
During an in-depth interview with the Players Tribune, Sterling addressed the undue attention he feels he has received over the past year or so, namely over his proclivity for extravagant spending.
The 23-year-old said: “There’s a perception in certain parts of the media that I love ‘bling.’ I love diamonds. I love to show off. I really don’t understand where that comes from.”
“Especially when I bought my mum a house, it was unbelievable what some people were writing.”
“If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine.”
Recently he also found himself in the spotlight for getting a rifle tattooed on his leg, with several public figures questioning his actions as a role model for aspiring young sportsmen.
But Sterling insists that he is now unfazed being under such scrutiny: “A few years ago, I would let it get to me. But now, as long as my mum and my sister and my kids don’t have any stress, I’m good.”
The Manchester City starlet touches on a whole host of other subjects during this personal and honest sit-down, including the death of his father and his relationship with his daughter.
He also states his belief that England is still a land of opportunity, referring to his humble beginnings living in Wembley and having to work in the early hours of the morning with his mum and sister to clean hotel rooms.
“I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’,” Raheem continues, before talking about his mother:”She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England.”
“If you grew up the same way I grew up, don’t listen to what certain tabloids want to tell you. They just want to steal your joy. They just want to pull you down.
“England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.”
The dream continues for Sterling this coming Sunday as England take on Panama, a game he will still hope to have an impact on despite reports of being dropped for Marcus Rashford.
A win will almost certainly see England through to the last 16 of the competition, after a 2-1 victory over Tunisia in their Group G opener at the start of the week.