The Manchester City midfielder has admitted he was swayed by the tabloids before a close friendship with his English teammate unfolded.
Kevin De Bruyne has admitted to thinking Raheem Sterling would be a "dickhead" before getting to know his "humble" Manchester City team-mate.
Midfielder De Bruyne and England star Sterling signed for City within just over a month of each other in 2015 and have been at the forefront of the club's successful spell under Pep Guardiola.
But as the Belgium international revealed in a column for The Players' Tribune website, he feared the portrayal of Sterling as "flashy" in some sections of the media would put their personalities at odds.
"Before I came to Manchester City, I didn't really know what to make of this Raheem Sterling guy," De Bruyne said.
"I had never met him, and from what I'd read about him in the English press, I thought he was going to be a very different character.
"I didn't think he'd be a bad guy, really. 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?"
De Bruyne: Raheem is one of the nicest, most humble guys I've met
Sterling, who moved to the Etihad Stadium from Liverpool for a fee reportedly nearing £50million, has often spoken out against his unfavourable depiction in certain news publications.
More recent attention has centred on his campaigning against racial abuse and his star performances in City's push for a second successive Premier League title.
De Bruyne assisted the first of the attacker's two goals in Sunday's 3-1 win at Crystal Palace and revealed their "strong connection" extends beyond the pitch.
"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," the former Chelsea and Wolfsburg man said.
"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 recognised 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."