Ilkay Gundogan praises Raheem Sterling and reveals how he dealt with racist abuse he suffered in Germany
Ilkay Gundogan has praised team-mate Raheem Sterling for taking a stand against racism in football and said it is vital footballers support each other in order to be able to defend themselves against abuse.
Gundogan has also suffered a traumatic experience this year when he was booed and jeered while playing for Germany because of his Turkish ancestry.
The midfielder, along with Arsenal star Mesut Ozil, angered many in Germany when he was pictured with controversial Turkish president Racep Erdogan and were targeted by racist groups and individuals on social media.
Ozil has since quit international football because of the nature of the abuse he received, although Gundogan has continued to make himself available for selection.
“It is something we all have to fight,” said Gundogan, after helping Manchester City top their Champions League group with a 2-1 win over Hoffenheim. “We all have to play our individual roles to make it better for everyone.
“Raheem has had a lot of support this week [after what happened against Chelsea]. He has been normal to be honest. I think he made his point clear through Instagram, giving a statement on that.
“I don’t know if there is any more to say about that, but this is obviously something that doesn’t belong anywhere in the world, but it happens.
“We have to deal with it. It’s not easy because I lived it in the summer as well. I know how that feels and it hurts.
“But, at the end of the day, we have no other choice but to stay strong and try to go through that period and try to do our best on the football pitch. To keep being successful, that’s what matters.”
Gundogan has also praised City youngster Phil Foden for his performance against Hoffenheim, in only his third start of the season.
“It was great for an 18-year-old to get the chance to start in the Champions League,” he added. “He played the whole 90 minutes. The more the game went on, the more he felt comfortable.
“He had an impact on our game. He could have scored, he could have assisted, which is always important for players playing in that position.
“Yeah, he’s a big talent and he shows that in training. Every game he gets, the more confidence he will get.
“We have a had a young team on Wednesday night. I think all of them already have proved what abilities they have and what qualities they have.
“They deserve to play for Manchester City, for such a great club. We are happy with them all. It’s up to every single player to show that on the pitch. To prove themselves, game by game. If we are able to do that, we are going to be successful.”
City’s response to their first Premier League defeat against Chelsea began shakily against Hoffenheim, but they still managed to win the game and Gundogan felt that was an important heading into the Christmas period.
“I enjoy the Christmas football because it’s a big tradition here in England,” he explained. “I know from the times I was in Dubai on holiday, when I was playing in the Bundesliga and watching the Premier League. Now I’m part of this competition, so it’s great.”