LONDON, United Kingdom, Nov 12 – 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 he and Gomez “had words” when they met up at the England camp the day after Liverpool’s 3-1 win over defending champions 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”.
The pair had also clashed on the field towards the end of Sunday’s match.
– ‘Families have disagreements’ –
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 which plagued previous England squads.
The likes of former star defender Rio Ferdinand have 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.
Southgate said in a hastily-organised press conference on Tuesday he would rather deal with the matter publicly now than let it fester till his usual meeting with the media on the eve of matches.
The 49-year-old, clearly irked by how the information had leaked out regarding the set-to, said Sterling’s emotions had run over but “it is not the same for Joe (Gomez)”.
However, he emphasised a line had been drawn under the incident.
“I love all of my players,” he said.
“We are like a family and all families have disagreements.
“The important thing is for a family to communicate and work through problems.
“I don’t expect as a manager to not have to deal with issues, that’s part of the job.
“Our focus is now on moving forward.”
Despite being dropped for Thursday’s match Sterling took part in England squad training — as did Gomez — on Tuesday.
Sterling, who according to some reports had packed his bags but changed his mind when Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson intervened and persuaded him to stay, 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 makeover in his image in the past year with less biting observations of his perceived lifestyle in the press and more positive headlines regarding his public stance against racism.
Six Chelsea fans were banned — one for life — after racially abusing him during a league game last season. He also suffered abuse along with England team-mates 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 following his father being shot dead in Jamaica in front of his own father 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 this year.