England footballer Raheem Sterling responds to gun tattoo backlash: 'My father was gunned down to death'
Manchester City and England winger Raheem Sterling has explained his latest tattoo, an assault rifle on his right calf.
The 23-year-old took to Instagram last night after his tattoo was branded "disgusting" by an anti-gun campaigner who spoke to The Sun newspaper.
The Sun described the ink work as "ace's sick new tattoo" with the headline "Raheem shoots himself in foot".
Lucy Cope, who founded Mothers Against Guns after her son Damian was shot dead outside a club in central London in July 2012, said the ink was "totally unacceptable".
"We demand he has the tattoo lasered off or covered up with a different tattoo," she said.
"If he refuses he should be dropped from the England team."
However, Sterling explained the meaning behind the tattoo on his right calf in an Instagram post.
"When I was 2 my father died from being gunned down to death.
"I made a promise to myself I would never touch a gun in my life time, I shoot with my right foot so it has a deeper meaning."
Sterling is currently training with England ahead of their warm-up matches before the World Cup, the first of which is against Nigeria at Wembley this Saturday.
The former Liverpool footballer looks certain for a place in Gareth Southgate's starting XI in the World Cup.
His City contract is up this summer but a deal to extend his stay has not yet been agreed.
“No doubt, it is so important [to keep Sterling]," Guardiola said in March. "But the deals are the deals. The agents, circumstances, maybe other clubs are interested in him.”