England footballer Raheem Sterling defends 'disgusting' assault rifle tattoo

England's Raheem Sterling. Adam Davy/PA Wire.
England's Raheem Sterling. Adam Davy/PA Wire.
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England forward Raheem Sterling has defended his new tattoo of an M16 assault rifle on his leg after it was branded "disgusting".

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England's Raheem Sterling's leg during a training session at St George's Park, Burton. Nick Potts/PA Wire.

England's Raheem Sterling's leg during a training session at St George's Park, Burton. Nick Potts/PA Wire.

The 23-year-old, who plays for Manchester City, posted a picture of himself training with his England team-mates at St George's Park, with a tattoo of an assault rifle on his right calf clearly visible.

Lucy Cope, who founded Mothers Against Guns after her son Damian was shot dead outside a club in central London in July 2002, said the ink was "totally unacceptable".

She told the Sun: "We demand he has the tattoo lasered off or covered up with a different tattoo.

"If he refuses he should be dropped from the England team.

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"He's supposed to be a role model but chooses to glamorise guns."

But the former Liverpool player, who is among five England strikers heading to Russia for the World Cup, alluded to the tattoo having a "deeper meaning".

In a post on Instagram, he 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 life time, I shoot with my right foot so it has a deeper meaning N still unfinished."