Ilkay Gundogan hopes there is no letting up in the fight against racism following team-mate Raheem Sterling’s bold stand on the issue.
Sterling suffered alleged racial abuse during Manchester City’s Premier League defeat at Chelsea last weekend. He responded by issuing a statement accusing newspapers of fuelling prejudice.
Gundogan can empathise with Sterling’s position having been targeted in his homeland of Germany last summer because of his Turkish heritage.
Ilkay Gundogan suffered racial abuse in Germany last summer (Mike Egerton/PA)
The midfielder said: “Obviously it’s something we all have to fight, we all have to play our individual roles to make it better for everyone. 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 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.”
Sterling’s statement, which highlighted the way newspapers report stories about black players, has prompted a big debate within sport and the media.
Gundogan believes Sterling has dealt with the matter well and has not been affected by the storm.
Gundogan said: “He has been normal to be honest. I think he made his point clear through Instagram, giving a statement on that.
“This is obviously something that doesn’t belong anywhere in the world, but it happens.”
That is a view shared by former City defender Nedum Onuoha, who told the Blue Moon Podcast: “I think the incident with Raheem is terrible, but I don’t think it’s the only incident. I think it’s the biggest one for a while because it involves a British player. This stuff goes on all the time.”
City were back in action on Wednesday as they hosted Hoffenheim in the Champions League. They came from behind to beat the Bundesliga side 2-1 and secure top spot in Group F with two goals from Leroy Sane.
Leroy Sane scored twice in City’s victory over Hoffenheim (Martin Rickett/PA)
They will now look to carry that momentum into Saturday’s lunchtime game against Everton, in which victory could take them back to the top of the Premier League ahead of Liverpool’s next outing on Sunday.
Manager Pep Guardiola’s biggest concern could be injuries with defender John Stones withdrawn at half-time against Hoffenheim with a knee problem. Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Danilo and Fernandinho will be assessed in the hope they could return but David Silva and Benjamin Mendy are out.
Gundogan said: “That’s the thing we have to deal with to be honest but the season is so long that it’s normal to get injuries. You have to deal with them and Wednesday we showed we were able to do so.
“We don’t have much time, the game is at 12.30 on Saturday, so we have to try and do our best in terms of recovery. It won’t be easy, but we will do our best. We’re playing at home and we want to get the three points and be successful.”