Raheem Sterling has thanked Manchester City for the “endless support” he received at the club as the England forward said his goodbyes as he completed his move to Chelsea.
Sterling was announced as a Chelsea player on Wednesday after the two Premier League rivals reached an agreement over a transfer worth around £50 million. The 27-year-old, who has entered the final year of his City deal, has signed a five-year contract with the Stamford Bridge club.
In a letter posted to his social media channels, Sterling thanked City's staff and fans for their support during his seven years at the Etihad, during which he scored 131 goals in 339 games and won four Premier League titles, four League Cups, and the 2019 FA Cup.
“Seven seasons, eleven major trophies, a lifetime of memories. To the coaching staff who have played a massive role in my development over the years, to my teammates who have become more than just those I shared a pitch with, to the backroom staff, to the office staff, to the fans who have tirelessly supported the team, and to everyone involved in Manchester City, my respect for you couldn't be greater. What a ride it's been,” the letter read.
“I am thankful for the ups and downs, as it's the downs that have, at times, tested my strength and resolve, and enabled me to stand here in front of you as the best possible version of myself.
“I arrived in Manchester as a 20-year-old. Today, I leave as a man.
“Thank you for your endless support. It's been an honour to wear the shirt of Manchester City.”
Sterling, who has been capped 77 times by England and played a key role in the team's run to the Euro 2020 final last summer, was hailed as a “wonderful servant for Manchester City” by director of football Txiki Begiristain.
“He leaves our club on the best terms possible having helped us win yet another Premier League title,” said the Spaniard.
“He has played a very important part of the successes we've had in recent seasons and his dignity on and off the field has been an inspiration to many.
“He will be forever part of Manchester City and we wish him well in the next chapter of his career and he departs knowing he will always be welcomed at this football club.”
Sterling, who joined City from Liverpool in 2015, has joined his new Chelsea teammates and manager Thomas Tuchel for the pre-season tour of the United States, where they are scheduled to play their opening tour match against Club America in Las Vegas on Saturday.
“I've obviously achieved a lot in my career so far, but there is still so much more to achieve and I'm really looking forward to doing that in a Chelsea shirt, under Thomas' management,” said Sterling after his move was confirmed by the London club.
“London is my home and where it all started for me, and it's amazing I now have the opportunity to play in front of friends and family week in, week out at Stamford Bridge. I'm really looking forward to meeting the fans there soon.
“I can't wait to get going now and continue to do my talking on the pitch.”