Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has revealed that he thought teammate Raheem Sterling would be a ‘dickhead,’ because of negative media coverage about the England international.
Both players signed for Man City in the summer of 2015, with the British tabloid press painting Sterling to be a flashy young money grabber for deciding to leave Liverpool and move to the Etihad.
Sterling has consistently had his character disgracefully attacked by the British tabloids over the last few years, and alarmingly even De Bruyne admits that the negative coverage affected how he viewed his City teammate before meeting him.
However, De Bruyne has revealed that him and the former Liverpool attacker have an excellent relationship, and that the picture the media has portrayed to the public of Sterling could not be further from the truth.
“I didn’t think he’d be a bad guy, really,” De Bruyne told the Players Tribune.
“But the tabloids were always claiming that he was arrogant. So I guess I thought he’d be … what do the English call it?
“A bit of a dickhead, maybe?
“Raheem and I have this strong connection, because we arrived at City around the same time, and there was a lot of negativity about us in the press. They said I was ‘the Chelsea reject.’ They said Raheem was this flashy guy who left Liverpool for money. They said we were difficult characters.
“Of course, when you read this stuff about yourself, you think, Me? I’m not difficult. This is ridiculous. These people don’t even know me! But honestly, when you read about other players, it influences the way you think. You can’t help it.
“Then I got to City and I actually met Raheem, and we’d talk a bit after training, and I thought, Wait, this guy seems really cool? What’s the story here?
“Truthfully, I don’t have many close friends — inside or outside of football. It takes me a really long time to open up to people. But over time, I got closer to Raheem, because our sons were born around the same time, so they would always play together. I really got to know Raheem, and I recognized what a smart and genuine person he is. He couldn’t be more different from what the tabloids were saying.
“This is the real truth: Raheem is one of the nicest, most humble guys I’ve met in football.
“Anyway, one day we were talking and Raheem said something like, ‘Mate, I thought you were going to be well different, before I met you. I thought you were going to be really distant and shy. But you’re actually quite funny.’
“I said, ‘I have a dry humour.’
“He said, ‘Well dry.’
“Then he said, ‘So what did you think I’d be like?’
“I said, ‘Honestly? I thought you were going to be really arrogant!’
“He looked at me like, ‘Mate!’
“And I looked at him like, ‘What? You thought I was going to be weird!’
“It’s a great lesson, I think. In my experience, footballers can be a lot different than you expect, especially if you really get to know them.
“This is definitely true for me as well.”
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