Raheem Sterling: "My daughter sings Mo Salah songs to me"
In the second part of his interview for AS, Raheem spoke about his childhood, which was marked by the murder of his father, and being criticised for shopping at Primark.
In the second part of AS’ exclusive interview with Raheem Shaquille Sterling, the Manchester City star spoke about the difficulties he experienced during his childhood, his family, racism and the tough criticism he has received by the media.
-Is there anything behind "Shaquille" being your middle name?
When my mum was naming me, my grandma tried to name me after Shaquille O'Neal. My grandma lived in America and she wanted to name me after him.
-Your father was murdered in Jamaica when you were two years old. How do you remember it and how did it influence your life?
Yeah, it was always a tough memory but at the same time it is something that I can always go back to and it motivates me to keep pushing and keep striving for the best. It is something that at five years old you don’t know what is going on. So, when you´re growing up and you start asking questions, your mum gives you the full understanding of what happened and then you understand how hard it must have been at the time for her and my brothers and sister.
-Did football help you to push on?
Football is one of those things, it’s a place where I could enjoy myself and switch off and laugh and sweat whatever the weather, it was something I could love and cherish.
Raheem Sterling: "My mum gives me the biggest motivation"
-How was and how is your mum now?
My mum is the person that gives me the biggest motivation, someone who, when I look to work hard, I look at her as the definition of that. She’s shown me how to fight for what I want and fight for what I need, so she’s the first person that comes into my head when I think about motivation.
-Now that you’re a top player, what does she say to you nowadays?
She's a vital influence, especially at the start of my career, wanting me to be in and around the goal more. It's something that she always used to give me stick for. She's brutally honest with me and that's the most important thing in football nowadays. When you have people that tell you the truth and not let you hear what you want to hear, they tell you exactly how it is and that's what my mum does.
-You and your sister helped her by cleaning toilets and rooms in a hotel…
At the time, we saw our mother working and we didn’t see anything different, it was just something that was part of our everyday life and we tried to make her life as easy as possible, so we tried to help her as much as we could.
-Did you even dream then that you would play at Wembley, a stadium very close to your childhood home?
Playing at the Etihad or Wembley, it was a dream from the beginning. These are things that you can only dream of doing. You look at Wembley and you think one day hopefully I will have the opportunity to play there. To play at Wembley was my first dream and my first love.
-You were naughty in your childhood. You were moved from an ordinary school and a teacher told you that you would be at prison or playing for England at 17. How do you remember?
I wouldn't exactly say prison, but you can see with behavior, that after a while one thing leads to another. At that time, I wasn't in a really bad place, but [If you carry on being like this then gradually in a couple of years that's the direction you're heading, and it was a bit of a wake-up call for me. Again, being given the chance to play football, that helped me massively... particularly in London, which is a place where you can get distracted because there's a lot going on but I always had football to get me out of trouble and keep me on the straight and narrow.]
-What was your worst mischief?
There was a game where I was sent off, I was throwing stones on the pitch and I didn’t play for a couple of weeks. I think that was definitely the worst thing.
-I’ve read a lot of things, so… How many children do you have?
That is one of the things that people use to speculate about but I’ve got a daughter and two sons.
-What do they represent in your life and your career?
Football takes up a lot of your life but at the end of the day when things get rough or tough that is what makes you happy. Seeing your kids is possibly the most important part of your day. They take away everything else that’s going on outside and you can block that out, so when I go home, everything seems perfect. Now my son Thiago is at the age of three and when I finish a game and I don't score, he lets me know that I didn’t and he will tell me exactly who scores so I will have to make sure to score because my son would tell me that I didn't score for the next four hours.
Sterling: "My daughter sings the Mo Salah song to me"
-Your daughter supports Liverpool and Salah. How do you deal with it?
Hahaha! She has my sort of personality and she likes to banter and chant Mo Salah’s songs to me. She knows the rivalry between Liverpool and the team that I play for so she's always singing their songs and trying to wind me up but that's just her personality.
-You have showed a strong commitment against racism. You have suffered racism from supporters and the media. Is this something you have learnt to live with?
Yes, today this is one of those things that becomes normal. It is frequent now to see a player walk off the pitch by himself. It’s sad to see but it's one of those things that I don’t think is taken quite seriously enough. People say that it is taken seriously but you can see month after month, it’s the same on everywhere. I think that if it was other subjects or people commenting on other people’s sexualities, I think it would be taken a lot more seriously than talking about someone's skin color.
-You have been criticized even for shopping at Primark…
Exactly, if I shop at Primark it's not the problem, the problem is that you can't let everybody know how much money you earn and to say that I’m not allowed to shop where I want because I earn a certain amount of money. They’re just surprised and they talk about where I go shopping.
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