As honest and forthright as ever, Kevin De Bruyne has offered up a really good article detailing his career, from his formative days in Belgium to his experiences of living and playing in England, first with Chelsea and then with Man City.
In candid detail, De Bruyne discusses how being a quiet, lonely kit helped shape his ego and hone his talent, his arms-length relationship with Jose Mourinho (“I only ever spoke to him twice”) and being pleasantly surprised to learn that Raheem Sterling isn’t “a bit of a dickhead” at all.
Writing in The Player’s Tribune, De Bruyne admitted that, ahead of the pair signing for City at roughly the same time, his assumptions about Sterling had been tinged by the constant haranguing the young winger was subjected to by the tabloids on an almost weekly basis.
Before I came to Manchester City, I didn’t really know what to make of this Raheem Sterling guy. I had never met him, and from what I’d read about him in the English press, I thought he was going to be a very different character.
I thought, well… I didn’t think he’d be a bad guy, really. But the tabloids were always claiming that he was arrogant. So I guess I thought he’d be… what do the English call it? A bit of a dickhead, maybe?
Going on, De Bruyne reveals that he has since formed an unshakeable friendship with Sterling who, it turns out, is actually a really decent sort of chap:
There was a lot of negativity about us in the press. They said I was “the Chelsea reject.” They said Raheem was this flashy guy who left Liverpool for money. They said we were difficult characters.
Of course, when you read this stuff about yourself, you think, Me? I’m not difficult. This is ridiculous. These people don’t even know me! But honestly, when you read about other players, it influences the way you think. You can’t help it.
Then I got to City and I actually met Raheem, and we’d talk a bit after training, and I thought, Wait, this guy seems really cool? What’s the story here?
Truthfully, I don’t have many close friends — inside or outside of football. It takes me a really long time to open up to people. But over time, I got closer to Raheem, because our sons were born around the same time, so they would always play together.
I really got to know Raheem, and I recognised what a smart and genuine person he is. He couldn’t be more different from what the tabloids were saying.
This is the real truth: Raheem is one of the nicest, most humble guys I’ve met in football.
All well and good but we shouldn’t gloss over the fact that, thanks to the insistent digging of The Sun and the Mail et al, we know it to be irrefutably true that Sterling purchased an expensive sink once. Never forget.
De Bruyne’s full Player’s Tribune article is here and it’s well worth a read. It’s impossible to come out of it without liking him (and our Raheem) all the more.