Raheem Sterling has vowed to carry on speaking up against racist abuse and has said the best answer to bigots is not to walk off the pitch, but to score a winner against them.
The Manchester City and England winger has emerged as an eloquent critic of the treatment some black players have received and has encouraged others to voice their opinions.
Sterling has thanked his mother, Nadine, for teaching him to be comfortable in his skin and said he did not encounter racism until he left London, where he grew up, for the north of England.
The 24 year old will face his international teammate Danny Rose in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final against Tottenham Hotspur.
The left-back, who also suffered racial abuse in England's 5-1 win in Montenegro last month, has said he "can't wait to see the back" of football because of racism and the authorities' feeble response to it.
Sterling had sympathy, saying: “I have heard stories of his past, in youth teams, and it is something he has come across quite a number of times. It is probably getting too much for him. I respect his comments and it is a shame to hear that.
“When I feel something is not right, I want to speak about it and I feel that is the best way forward. If more players do speak up, the better it will be.”
The Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino praised Rose and Sterling and said their profile means they can make an impact, saying: “People like Danny and Sterling, they have the capacity [to make a difference] because they are famous.”
Sterling urged the authorities to act, adding: “This is something that has been happening before I have been born. This is as much as I can do, to raise awareness. It is for people in higher places to do their job, to bring education. They have to see what the players feel and have their interest. It is about speaking what you have experienced and some people have probably shied away from that.”
While City manager Pep Guardiola and Pochettino have said they would take their players off the pitch if they were racially abused, Sterling outlined another way of dealing with bigotry.
“I wouldn’t agree with it,” he added. “Everyone is different and has their own feeling how they take things emotionally but to win the game would hurt them even more. To score a goal and win the match would be a better feeling.”
Sterling was born in Jamaica but brought up in Wembley and thanked his mother for a happy childhood where he did not suffer from prejudice.
He added: “My mum always told me I was a wonderful black child. I know I am black, I am happy with it and proud and comfortable with my body. My mum has always told me to love my body. The first time I experienced racism was when I went north to Liverpool and mainly so in the last couple of years. London is a really diverse community.”
Sterling has scored 24 goals for City and England this season to make himself a candidate for the player-of-the-year awards and he credited Guardiola for his improved form.
He said: “To be in such an amazing team with a great coach and an environment where I am constantly learning and have someone that trusts you always keeps you on your toes. There is no better place to be.”
Sergio Aguero, who has missed City’s last two games, could return for the second match at Tottenham’s new stadium. The striker has trained and Guardiola said: “He feels better.”