Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling says he is proud to be black and has urged other footballers to speak up on the issue of racism in the sport.
Sterling, 24, has received praise for his public stance against racism this season, after accusing the media of “fuelling” the problem with their portrayal of young black footballers.
Sterling insists it was never his intention to become the public face of anti-racism efforts in British football, but believes footballers have a responsibility to speak up on the issue.
He said: “I don’t think I’m trying to make a difference, or making a difference. It’s about speaking about what you have experienced and some people have probably shied away from that.
“I’m a person, when I feel that something is not quite right, I want to speak about it and people to see it from my perspective. I think that is the best way forward.
“If more players speak up then the better it will be.”
There have been calls for players to walk off the pitch if they are abused, but Sterling believes that would be the wrong move.
“I wouldn’t personally agree with it,” he said. “To win the game would hurt them even more, they’re only trying to get you down.
“If you walk off they win, to score or win would be better.”
Sterling added: “Growing up, my mum always told me I’m a wonderful black child and I know this. So, when I hear it, it is nothing new to me. I know I’m black and I’m happy with it, I’m proud.
“I’m confident with my body, but at the same time it [abuse] is not right. If you do let it get to you, some people can’t take it. Growing up, my mum always told me to love myself and who I am.”