If I was Raheem Sterling, I would take the response to the gun tattoo on the chin and go and get it removed as soon as possible.
Maybe I would put a picture or alternative tribute to my Dad on there. If I was Gareth Southgate I’d tell him the same thing – go and get it removed now.
It’s no new thing that footballers have tattoos, they always have, when I was playing and now. Most of them, though, have some kind of personal meaning to the player.
There’s nothing worse than losing a parent, like Raheem Sterling has, and so I can see why he would want to get a tribute to his father. But what I don’t understand is why that has to be a gun.
There’s surely other ways of paying respects to, and remembering, your Dad than having a tattoo of a gun on your leg. It doesn’t sit right with me at all.
I appreciate that it’s personal preference, but when you think about the gang crime that we have across England, with so many people being stabbed and shot, as well as all the terrorist shootings, it wasn’t the smartest of moves for someone who is so in the public eye.
He’s at one of the biggest clubs in the world, one that has just won the Premier League, and is now heading to play for his country in the World Cup. And at the end of the day, whether he likes it or not, he’s a role model for thousands of children.
Footballers must expect scrutiny – especially ahead of the World Cup
He could have had the tattoo where no one could see it, for example, but to have it that large on your leg, as a footballer you know people are going to spot it.
Everyone is going to talk about that, not only journalists but also people who have lost friends and family to gun crime.
It’s not just a football thing, it’s a societal thing, something that impacts so many in our country.
Yet here we have a footballer, who is idolised by so many people because of what a fantastic season he’s had, who goes and puts a gun on his leg. I understand he’s lost his father due to a shooting, but there are so many people who have lost family members because of guns, and you wouldn’t necessarily envision them putting a picture of one on their leg.
I believe he will reflect on it, and realise that it probably wasn’t the right thing to do. It’s terrible timing, right ahead of the World Cup, and now everyone is speaking about Raheem Sterling’s tattoo instead of Raheem Sterling the player, or the other England players.
He must have took the decision upon himself to do it, because I’m sure if he spoke to those around him or his representatives they would have warned him off doing it.
It’s not a good move for him, for football, or for society. I know people have been suggesting that Sterling has been attacked on this occasion for his actions. But nowadays, as a footballer, you have to come to expect it.
You must realise that everyone has a phone, everyone is on to you, if you do something off the pitch everyone is going to know about it.
That’s the world we live in, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
You have to try to conduct yourself the right way on and off the pitch, regardless of who you are or how much money you have. He must have known the consequences of putting an image of an assault rifle on his leg. Whether he’s not thought it through, I don’t know.
But, he must have known there would be some repercussions.