FOOTBALLERS’ union the PFA has defended Raheem Sterling after the Liverpool and England forward was filmed appearing to pass out from taking nitrous oxide, the legal high also known as laughing gas.
Reds chiefs are expected to let Sterling off with a warning, despite manager Brendan Rodgers admitting his concern at the claims, and PFA deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes believes the 20-year-old should be treated leniently.
“Nobody would condone the use of these types of substances whether legal or otherwise as footballers are seen as role models,” said Barnes.
“But you have to bear in mind that we ask an awful lot of young players growing up in the public eye. Many of us look back at things we have done in our teens and early 20s and wish we hadn’t done them.
“He’s a young man, growing up in public eye, and he has made a mistake. Let’s not be too hard on the boy. He is under a lot of pressure and people think because he has a lot of talent he’s also supposed to have diplomacy and wisdom.”
Sterling has endured a series of controversies, with the youngster also pictured appearing to smoke a shisha pipe and going public on his rejection of a new £100,000-per-week Liverpool deal.
The contract storm coincided with a slump in the team’s form, though Sterling helped to earn their first win in three Premier League games with a goal in Monday’s 2-0 defeat of struggling Newcastle.