Raheem Sterling said that the racist abuse he faced from a Chelsea fan at Stamford Bridge several years ago did not cross his mind before he made the decision to sign for the club from Manchester City last month.
The 27-year-old England forward said the incident, which occurred at Stamford Bridge in 2018 and saw Chelsea fan Colin Wing hit with a lifetime ban, had made him aware of his responsibilities as a leading Black player.
“It wasn’t something that played on my mind at all,” Sterling told reporters ahead of Chelsea’s home game against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
“I can’t let an incident from individuals change my perception of the club.
“I have no hatred or malice towards the individual.”
Sterling, who won four league titles with City, said it had opened the door for him to understand what his “true purpose is other than football”.
“Of course, football is my main goal and my main talent, but it’s the other thing that gives me the most joy. That’s helping people ... I’ve moved away from the racial side of it and am focused more on helping and nurturing young Black people.”
Chelsea, who finished third last season, beat Everton in their Premier League opener.