Kevin De Bruyne explains why he thought Raheem Sterling would be “a bit of a d***head” before they met
Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne says the media coverage of Raheem Sterling made him expect the winger to be “a very different character” before his arrival at the Etihad Stadium.
Both players joined the club in summer 2015 on big-money deals, and the Belgian remembers holding reservations about the England international before they met.
"Before I came to Manchester City, I didn’t really know what to make of this Raheem Sterling guy,” he told the Players’ Tribune. (opens in new tab)
“I had never met him, and from what I’d read about him, 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 d*******, maybe?
"Raheem and I have this strong connection, because we arrived at City around the same time, and there was a lot of negativity about us in the press.
"They said I was 'the Chelsea reject'. They said Raheem was this flashy guy who left Liverpool for money. They said we were difficult characters.
"Of course, when you read this stuff about yourself, you think, 'Me? I’m not difficult. This is ridiculous. These people don’t even know me!' But honestly, when you read about other players, it influences the way you think. You can’t help it.
"Then I got to City and I actually met Raheem, and we’d talk a bit after training. I thought, 'Wait, this guy seems really cool? What’s the story here?'
"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.
"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."
REVEALED The best goalkeepers in the Premier League this season – with unique data (opens in new tab)
RANKED! Every Premier League manager by how long they'd survive in Game of Thrones (opens in new tab)
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Get FourFourTwo Newsletter
The best features, fun and footballing quizzes, straight to your inbox every week.
Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.