Speaking in an exclusive interview with Diario AS in Manchester, England international Raheem Sterling looks ahead to Manchester City’s upcoming Champions League ties with Real Madrid.
Where were you when you found out that City had been drawn against Madrid?
We had a team meeting at the training ground and we watched the draw live. It’s something that we always do and it’s a great laugh. We had a good reaction when we knew that they would be our rival. You know it’s a big club but it’s a challenge that, I’ve experienced in this competition; if you want to do well I think the best thing you have to do is to play against the best teams straight away and there is no better challenge than Real Madrid.
Have you followed Real Madrid’s improvement in recent months?
Going to the Santiago Bernabéu is always going to be a difficult game whether they are in a good or bad moment. Just because of the atmosphere, the historical stadium that we are going to, it’s going to be a difficult game.
Zidane has been key to this improvement; some people in Spain believe he brings good luck. How do you see him?
I think to win the Champions League so many times especially in a row as well, I don’t think that’s luck, it’s definitely a formula. Some people have that winning mentality and he wins by any means. So I wouldn’t say that’s luck, I’d say it’s something he has probably developed over his career as a player and he’s developing his career as a manager so it continues with this winning touch. I don’t think when you win it’s luck, it’s a winning mentality.
City are experts at scoring last-minute goals. Are you aware that Madrid are also known for grabbing late goals?
Yes, we know how difficult it’s going to be. It’s probably one of the biggest tests of our playing careers.
If you were a manager, which Madrid player would you like to sign?
Luka Modric. I’ve played against him a couple of times, especially with Croatia, and I don’t know, the way he floats about. He’s very nice on the eye.
Would he be in your starting line-up?
Could you see yourself in the Real Madrid line-up, do you think you’d fit in?
(Laughs) It’s one of those things, no-one knows what the future holds but I’m a person that is always open to challenges. Right now I’m at City and I’m really happy. But as I say Real Madrid is a fantastic club, when you see the white shirt you know exactly what the club stands for, it’s massive. But at the same time, I have a massive contract with City now and I have to respect this. But it’s a fantastic club.
Madrid wanted to sign you and there are still rumours about it. What do you think about that?
It’s something that you see all the time, but I’m a City player and I’m enjoying it at the moment, even if things haven’t gone quite to plan in the league. We now have a massive opportunity in the Champions League but I keep saying Real Madrid is a fantastic club, there’s lovely weather but I’m quite happy at City.
You once had a problem with Sergio Ramos, who claims he didn’t step on you. Have you spoken to him since?
I think it’s one of those ones – it’s a football match and we both try to win. He knows that he stepped on my foot that day but we were both trying to win the match for our countries and an incident happened, he didn’t think it was a foul, I did and it happens sometimes. There is no love lost. He’s a player I admire for exactly what he’s done in the game. He’s a true role model and icon. At the end of the game, it was all fine and sweet.