Raheem Sterling shrugs off gun tattoo criticism as England prepare for World Cup
Sterling says England must have the mentality to win the tournament.
England midfielder Raheem Sterling insists the criticism he has received for having a gun tattoo on his leg has not affected his preparation for the World Cup in Russia.
Sterling said the “unfinished” tattoo references the shooting of his father who was gunned down in Jamaica when the Manchester City striker was just two years of age.
The 23-year-old said the artwork is a reminder to him to “never touch a gun”.
Sterling, however, has been accused by some of glamorising gun crime, although he said at England’s World Cup media day that he was simply focused on training and was more concerned for the welfare of his family.
“(This week) it’s not really been that tough,” Sterling said in an interview broadcast on Sky Sports.
“Things happened and get spoken about, but I put that to one side.
“I’ve been focused on training and playing Nigeria, so for me it was a normal week to be honest.
“The only thing that changed was that I was in the newspapers a bit more.
“I just got on with my day. I spoke with my mum and she was OK. My daughter and my son are OK, I’m fine.
“That was the least of my worries. It’s obviously bad to see yourself spoken of in that light, but it’s not something that gets me down.
“I’ve got a World Cup to prepare for and I’ve had training sessions every day, so my mind was already occupied. That was the least of my worries.”
Most pundits believe England will have had a successful World Cup if they reach the quarter-finals.
But Sterling said he would be disappointed if they did not make it past the group stage.
“I expect the group, the team, to show their real character,” he said.
“We’ve been building over this past year and made real progress as a team.
“We’re starting to control games better, which was a big issue for us, and these little things we’re putting in place will only do us well in this tournament.
“I’m really excited to see what we’re capable of. If all 23 players are on board and have the belief – I’m hearing a lot about trying to get to the quarter-finals.
“But you don’t really want to come away from six or seven weeks and that’s it.
“You’ve got to come here with the mentality to win the tournament.”