sport news Why Raheem rose above the bile: Sterling could have baulked at Chelsea transfer ... trends now
‘He is going to get a great one,’ said Chelsea Supporters’ Trust board member Dan Silver. ‘He is 27, a brilliant footballer in his prime, a winner who has had unparalleled success at Manchester City and he is going to be a great signing.
‘He is also a fantastic role model not just for football but society. It is great we have got someone of his calibre coming in. I’m very excited to see him pull on a Chelsea shirt.’
Fans turn on Raheem Sterling at Stamford Bridge while playing for Manchester City in 2018
Sterling will be made to feel right at home at the Bridge after his summer move from City. Images of him have been prominent on the club’s social media channels — including a mock-up of the star on the stadium wall — which show the excitement.
The hero’s welcome awaiting him on Sunday when he plays at home for the first time as a Chelsea player against Tottenham, will be in stark contrast to one disgusting incident which overshadowed his December 2018 visit with City when he was racially abused by a Blues supporter.
It was a shocking, depressing episode that has been revisited since his Chelsea switch. Both events underline the mental resilience and resolve that have underpinned Sterling’s life and rise to stardom.
A mock-up of Sterling on the stadium wall shows the excitement at the club over his transfer
Chelsea’s first black player Paul Canoville, who suffered vile racist abuse from his own fans during his 1980s Blues career and is now a club ambassador and activist fighting racism in football, tells Sportsmail: ‘If that was me in the situation I’d think, “wow, look at what I received when I played down at Stamford Bridge and now the club wants me. What do I do? What decision do I make?” Mental resilience, of course, plays a major part. You’re strong to say, “I’ve forgotten about that. That’s nothing. I’m stronger than that.”
‘He thought about football first. He has come to do a job at Chelsea. He is a brilliant addition. I’m so glad he has come here. A lot of fans are looking forward to him and looking to accept him. Nothing else.’
Paul Canoville, Chelsea's first black player, praised Sterling for his resilience
Sterling did indeed want to draw a line under what happened. The incident sparked all manner of negative emotions for right-minded members of the fanbase and club.
Anger, disappointment, frustration and embarrassment among them. Anti-discrimination work and progress had been undermined by the behaviour and abhorrent views of a few — despite the club’s swift response, investigation and zero-tolerance punishment after the CPS concluded there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
But it is also understood the incident was considered barely worthy of mention ahead of his transfer, so focused was Sterling on looking forward rather than back. The Londoner is described as someone with such an appetite for football that those who know him well would not be surprised if he keeps playing at whatever level he can even into his 40s.
Sterling wanted to draw a line under what happened and the incident was considered barely worthy of mention