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Boost for underfire Man City and England star as he receives backing from Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate has pledged his support to Raheem Sterling in the wake of the controversy surrounding a tattoo of a M16 assault rifle on his right leg, according to Sky Sports.

Sterling has come in for criticism after anti-gun campaigners criticised the Manchester City star when he shared a photo of himself with the tattoo of an M16 assault rifle on his leg.

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As per the report from Sky, Sterling defended via an Instagram post and said it was a tribute to his late father who died after being shot when Sterling was two-years-old.

Sterling said: “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 lifetime, I shoot with my right foot so it has a deeper meaning N still unfinished.”

He is currently preparing with the England team ahead of their international friendly against Nigeria tomorrow and Southgate backed the player’s character and said he perceives tattoos as an expression of individualism.

“Raheem is a very strong character. He is focused on his football. I’ve had a good, deep conversation with him just to see how we was with everything,” said Southgate.

“He knows he’s got our support. He understands how some people have perceived the tattoo. In my view a tattoo is like any work of art – it is a very individual meaning, the intent is all with the individual and person.

“What has been clear from his own statement and his own experience is that he is not somebody that supports, or wants to promote, guns in the way that was perceived at first.

“It was something he has had to get on with this week but he is a very strong individual and he’s looking forward to the game.”

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