The Spanish coach believes his winger’s off-field commitment may help him stay grounded on the pitch
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he was proud of Raheem Sterling for how a forward has fought against racial injustice.
Sterling has enjoyed yet another fine season on the pitch, however the England international is also helping the fight against racism amid movements around the world.
The forward scored a hat-trick in City’s 5-0 Premier League thrashing of Brighton on Saturday, moving onto 27 goals this season – the most he’s netted in a single campaign.
While Guardiola has praised Sterling’s performances, that he also lauded the 25-year-old for his work off the field.
“People forget that behind the shirt they are human beings,” he told reporters.
“I’ve said many times to my players, ‘I know for a long time you’ve been told you’re special, but you aren’t. All you can certainly do is play football, nevertheless, you are not an architect, you’re not a politician, you are not a physician, you are not a lot of, million actions you can take. You can just play football’. That doesn’t make us special.
“But we are people at the same time like all the architects, politicians, medical practioners, journalists. They have feelings and they defend the humanitarian issues in the best possible way.
“I like it since when you have a commitment to society to make a better society yourself and for the kids, this commitment helps you to become a better player. The big athletes always make a commitment, a compromise for society.
“I think Raheem and many, many of our players, a whole lot of folks are trying to produce a better world.
“It’s difficult, in the world we’re living, but I’m proud. I’m really proud of what he is doing and he knows, as a club, myself as a person, we support him 100 per cent.”
After back-to-back 5-0 wins, City host Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday.
Guardiola also singled Sterling out for praise after seeing his winger bag a clinical hat-trick against Brighton.
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“All credit to hime. Not just for the three goals, it’s important for what we have ahead of us,” Guardiola told a news conference on Saturday.
“His development as a person is because that he wants to improve and we have been so delighted with his performance. Raheem himself knows just what he has to accomplish. He’s a massive competitor and is self-confident, aggressive, that he loves to score goals.
“We have wingers with the mentality to score goals which is so important.”