Raheem Sterling has revealed that avoiding social media abuse has helped him to rebuild his confidence and career at Manchester City.
The England winger was targeted after leaving Liverpool for City in a £44million deal last summer that made him the most expensive British footballer of all time, and police were called in to investigate threats made against his young daughter.
Sterling was then made a scapegoat for City’s failure to challenge for the Premier League title last season, as well as England’s abject Euro 2016 campaign, and only last week had to delete a photo of his daughter on her first day at school following more online abuse.
Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling smiles during a press conference on Monday afternoon
Former Liverpool winger Sterling spoke candidly at the City Academy training complex
But after a promising start to the season under Pep Guardiola, in which he scored twice against West Ham United and won two penalties for City, a rejuvenated Sterling says that he is learning to ignore his critics.
‘I block that out and simply play football,’ he said. ‘That’s it. I never listen to that.
‘Before, every time you take a stroll, you’d be on your phone, on your app, being nosy to see what people are saying when you see your name.
‘Now I don’t pay it any mind, I simply leave it alone.
‘It’s always good to be on a good run and have confidence in yourself but when you hear unfair criticism it does put you down a bit.
‘People don’t recognise you or see how you’re willing to work hard, to do better for your country and club. At times it’s a little bit frustrating.
The 21-year-old star believes City manager Pep Guardiola has helped him revive his career
The England international says he has given up looking at what his critics say on social media
‘I got a lot of criticism last year which I thought was a bit unfair because I equalled my best scoring total (with 11 goals) and for me it was a massive learning step.’
Sterling could have been forgiven for questioning his future at the Etihad Stadium under Guardiola, but a personal phone call from the new City boss this summer put his mind at rest.
He added: ‘Pep coming in was a massive help, and for him to be on the phone to me before I even met him was a massive boost.
‘He said he always liked my fo…