John Stones 'upset' for Manchester City's Raheem Sterling after 'ridiculous' World Cup criticism

Sterling scored City's opener in their 2-1 win over Newcastle on Saturday

Mark Critchley@mjcritchley
Sunday 02 September 2018 14:47
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Manchester City 2018/19 Premier League profile

John Stones has said he was upset by the “ridiculous” criticism that his Manchester City and international team-mate Raheem Sterling received during England's run to the World Cup semi-finals.

Sterling’s place in the national side came into question from the very start of this summer’s tournament, which ended with England reaching the last four under Gareth Southgate - their best World Cup finish in 28 years.

The 23-year-old’s last England goal came in October 2015 and he has often been a lightning rod for criticism at international level, with much attention unnecessarily paid to his off-field conduct.

Last month, former Arsenal striker Ian Wright claimed Sterling was the victim of a racially-motivated agenda within the media and being "picked on" because of his background.

Sterling was an integral part of City's record-breaking, title-winning side last season and has picked up from where he left off this term, scoring his second goal in three games in City's 2-1 victory over Newcastle United on Saturday.

Stones is not surprised to see Sterling hit the ground running and, on Saturday, the defender hit back at those who criticised his City and England team-mate during the summer.

“‘Raz’ was unbelievable in the World Cup,” Stones said. “I know he got a lot of negativity towards him, but what he brought to the team… he terrorised defences, and it got overshadowed.

“On a personal level, I was upset for Raheem because what he brings to his team, as we saw with his goal against Newcastle, is immense.

“And it’s not just about goals, he creates chances, takes on his full back – he does everything right and more and I hope if we do play for England that one goes in and that is that, and we can put it to bed.

“If that happens, he can go on to show the world how good he is.”

In the weeks leading up to the World Cup, Sterling's tattoo of an assault rifle on his right leg provoked a national furore. The former Liverpool winger has previously been criticised for spending "lavishly" on a house for his mother, flying on a low-budget airline and shopping in Primark.

Sterling scored the opener in City's win

Stones labelled such criticism as "ridiculous" and backed Sterling answer his detractors on the pitch.

“He has such a great mentality, to keep coming out every week and doing what he does, and brush it all aside," Stones said.

“There was a lot of stuff going on before the World Cup, non-football related which is ridiculous. But you can’t let it get to you and Raz is so focussed on his football and wanting to do well for the team – and that is the side people don’t see.

“Its an unbelievable quality for any footballer to have, and it makes him a great lad to play with.”

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