Raheem Sterling has said sorry to the England manager and his team-mates after reporting late for World Cup duty.
Just days after the controversy over his gun tattoo, Sterling’s position in Gareth Southgate’s plans was under further scrutiny on Friday when it emerged the Manchester City star had arrived at England’s St George’s Park training base later than planned.
Southgate made his feelings plain to Sterling and the England boss revealed afterwards that the forward had apologised to the squad.
Raheem Sterling apologised to his England teammates after reporting late for World Cup duty
Like the rest of Southgate’s players, Sterling was given a week off to unwind after the final game of his season on May 13. He went to Ibiza before returning to England for a custody hearing on May 17 concerning his former girlfriend.
He then went to Jamaica for a family holiday but he failed to make it back in time when flying home via Miami. He was due to report for duty on the evening of May 22 but didn’t arrive at St George’s Park until the following morning.
Sterling completed a light session on the day of his arrival before rejoining the rest of the squad on the Thursday.
When Sterling realised the mistake regarding his flights would make him late, he immediately called Southgate to explain. He had already been given permission to report one day later than planned due to the court case.
Southgate revealed on Thursday: ‘He was given off until the Tuesday night and he arrived on the Wednesday morning. So, he was late. That was dealt with. We discussed it as a group and moved on.
Sterling was due to report on the evening of May 22 but did not arrive at St George’s Park until the following morning after a mix-up on flights and a connection
Gareth Southgate spoke to Sterling and says he came to an agreement with the player
‘There was a mix-up on flights and a connection. We haven’t hid anything on that. I think we said he was due to meet on Tuesday night but missed that.
‘I had a discussion with the player, we went for a walk and came to an agreement. And then he, in fairness to him, wanted to apologise to the group, explained his commitment to the team, and it’s done.
‘Everybody moved on. I have to say, he’s trained brilliantly all week. He’s so keen for this tournament to be a success for him and the team.
‘There was nothing intentional in his lateness. But, of course, I’d given him a bit of extra time so he understood why it was more important to get back than he was able to. Do I feel let down? No, because it was not an intentional situation. I have a sense that… if someone doesn’t want to be here and wants to be late, that’s different.
‘But I know how he was about it, so it was clear to me, his commitment and his focus.’
Sterling was heavily criticised this week for the tattoo of a rifle on his right leg, with some claiming it glorified gun crime.
But Southgate defended the City forward over the issue, adding: ‘He understands how some people have perceived the tattoo but in my view, a tattoo is like any work of art — it has individual meaning, the intent is all individual to the person.
‘What has been clear from his own statement is that he is not someone who supports or wants to promote guns in the way that was perceived at first.’
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.