England and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has defended his decision to have the likeness of a gun tattooed on his leg.
The 23-year-old's new body art is highlighted on the front page of Tuesday's edition of The Sun, in which a mother whose son was shot and killed called for the footballer to have the tattoo removed.
“This tattoo is disgusting," said Lucy Cope, who founded Mothers Against Guns. “Raheem should hang his head in shame. It’s totally unacceptable. We demand he has the tattoo lasered off or covered up with a different tattoo. If he refuses he should be dropped from the England team."
However, the Manchester City attacker was quick to explain the motivation behind the tattoo in a social media post.
In an Instagram Stories post, Sterling wrote: "When I was 2 my father died from being gunned down to death I made a promise to myself I would never touch a gun in my life time, I shoot with my right foot so it has a deeper meaning N still unfinished."
Raheem Sterling has posted on Instagram about his gun tattoo following the publication of a story about it pic.twitter.com/vmdxgAMUOq— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) May 28, 2018
On Sunday, the former Liverpool player posted a picture of himself training with his England team-mates at St George's Park, with a tattoo of an assault rifle on his right calf clearly visible.
Alongside the image Sterling wrote: "When you're training and realised you ain't post on the gram in couple days."