A pair of underwhelming performances to start Euro 2016 earned Raheem Sterling a place on the bench and an excessive amount of criticism both from the press and social media. This has left the 21-year-old Man City player suffering a crisis of confidence. According to the Guardian, incoming City manager Pep Guardiola made a point to call Sterling in an effort to lift his spirits and reassure him in the midst of a difficult period. The following is a transcript of that conversation.
Sterling: Hello, you’ve reached the most hated man in Britain. Please don’t be mean to me.
Guardiola: Raheem? It’s Pep. I want to talk to you.
Sterling: Oh God, are you going to sell me to China now?
Guardiola: No, Raheem, nothing like that. I want to tell you that I believe in you. You are a great player and I don’t care what anyone else says. Neither should you. Try your best and you will get results. I promise.
Sterling: You really still think I’m good?
Guardiola: I do. I know it. And I want you to know it, too.
Sterling: Do you think I’m better than Messi?
Guardiola: Well, uh, you’re very good, Raheem. Don’t worry about comparing yourself to anyone else.
Sterling: So you do think I’m better than Messi?
Guardiola: Uh…which Messi are we talking about? Because Leo has brothers and you’re definitely better than them.
Sterling: But what about Leo?
Guardiola: So how about that Brexit thing? Pretty crazy, huh?
Sterling: See — you don’t believe in me, either! You’re just like all the rest!
Guardiola: Raheem, listen. You just need to block out all the negativity. Ignore social media and the press and everything else. Just like I do with Jose Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. If I listened to everything they say about me, I would barricade myself inside my office and cry all day and all night. Instead, I ignore them as best I can and only cry every night while the rest of my family sleeps. Just keep your focus and you can be the very best one day. You’re only 21 years old! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself! And remember: You’ve already scored just as many goals at the Euros as Messi has.
Sterling: You’re right!
Guardiola: Good. I’m glad. So…did you like my Pep talk?
Sterling: Yeah, it really helped me. Thanks.
Guardiola: Do you see what I did there? Because my name is Pep and I told you things to lift your spirits. A Pep talk! It has a double meaning!
Sterling: Yeah, I got it. I just didn’t want to let that ruin everything else you said.
Guardiola: Oh. It’s just that I read about how British people like puns. Have I ruined it now?
Guardiola: Sorry. I’ll hang up now.