Ilkay Gundogan says it hurts to be targeted by racism and has given his support to Manchester City teammate Raheem Sterling.
Sterling, 24, hit out at media coverage that he said “helps fuel racism,” after abuse was allegedly directed at him during a match at Chelsea. Gundogan and former international teammate Mesut Ozil were barracked by Germany fans and criticised after they were pictured with Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a reception in London in May.
“I think he made his point clear through Instagram, giving a statement on that,” the City midfielder told reporters. “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 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 has received praise for his stance and Gundogan hopes it will help the fight against racism.
“I think he got a lot of support this week. I think also the way Chelsea reacted was good,” he added. “Obviously it’s something we all have to fight, we all have to play our individual roles to make it better for everyone.”
City are back in the Premier League on Saturday with an early kick-off against Everton as they try to reclaim top spot from leaders Liverpool.
Gundogan, 28, played in a deeper holding midfield role in Wednesday’s Champions League victory over Hoffenheim and could take on that role again if Fernandinho doesn’t recover from a muscle strain in time.
“The season is so long that it’s normal to get injuries,” he said. “You have to deal with them and [against Hoffenheim] we showed we were able to do so. We don’t have much time, the game is at 12.30 p.m. 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.
“It’s a big tradition [to have a lot of games] here in England. 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.
“Because it has such history and it’s such a big tradition to play during that tough period. A lot of games coming and a lot of points to gain. That’s our target and we will try to do our best.”