What is that tattoo all about Mr Footballer?

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Raheem Sterling has recently hit the headlines in a controversial way. The young midfielder, who plays his football for Manchester City, has been tried and convicted in the media, all because of a tattoo on his right leg.

The tattoo that is causing all of the fuss is of an M16 rifle. Anti-gun campaigners here in the UK have branded the image as disgusting – but is it really?

Adverse publicity forces as an explanation

Forced to defend himself by the adverse publicity, which in some circles has gone to the lengths of demands for him to be dropped from England’s World Cup squad, Sterling has volunteered that the tattoo is a memento to his father.

The 23-year-old’s dad was shot to death when Sterling was just two years old. The M16 tattoo is to remind the young player of the vow he made after the shooting never to touch a gun. In a recent post he put out on Instagram, the Manchester City forward said that as well as reminding him of his promise, he also happens to shoot with his right leg, making the tattoo even more meaningful.

The media’s unkind comments about Raheem

The Instagram post prompted the Sun newspaper to bandy the headline that Sterling had shot himself in the foot. Unfortunately for this young footballer, this latest smear is just the tip of what appears to be a concerted effort by the media in general to besmirch his character.

He has been called a love rat; he has been accused of having humble taste by shopping at Primark; of taking an £80 easyJet flight even though he earns £200K per week, and of being a penny pincher seen driving a filthy Merc. Some people just can’t win.
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Famous tattoos explained

But Raheem Sterling isn’t the only footballer whose tattoos may need explaining to some. Sergio Ramos has a lot of body art including a large mural all over his back. But the ones that needs some explaining are the numbers 19, 32, 35 and 90+ which he has tattooed on his knuckles.

When asked what they signified he revealed that 19 was the age that he made his official footballing debut for the Spanish national side.

The numbers 32 and 53 were that first squad numbers that he was given at Sevilla, while 90+ refers to the goal he scored in injury time in the final of the Champions League against Atletico Madrid in 201, who pipped Arsenal to the post in this year’s UEFA Europa League.

Daniele de Rossi, the Italian midfield player whose is infamous for his tough tackling, needed no explanation, however, regarding this tattoo on the back of his right calf. It is a triangular danger sign showing two stick footballers – one slide tackling the other. It’s a warning to all other players to illustrate he will give no quarter.

David Beckham does his own thing

David Beckham meanwhile took a different route. Rather than commemorating specific sporting achievements, his tattoos (of which he has more than 40) are in celebration of his family.