AL KHOR, Qatar – England’s Raheem Sterling, who was missing from the squad for Sunday’s 3-0 World Cup win over Senegal, was due to head back to Britain on Monday to be with his family, coach Gareth Southgate said, with local media reporting a break-in at his home.
“I’ve spent some time with him today.... And obviously, family at these moments is the most important thing,” Southgate added, when asked about the Chelsea forward amid the reports of a home intrusion.
“So we want to give him that space. And we’ll see over the next few days how that all develops.”
He did not provide details of the incident or say if Sterling planned to return to Qatar.
The 27-year-old, who has 81 caps, was left out of the squad for the match that saw England book a place in the World Cup quarter-finals against holders France on Saturday. The Football Association said he was not available for “personal reasons”.
Asked about the incident, Southgate said he would not discuss the details because it was a private matter. “Obviously it’s not ideal for the group preparing for a game, but the individual is more important than the group in those moments,” he told reporters.
In a statement on Monday, British police said: “We are currently investigating a report of a burglary at an address in Oxshott, Leatherhead.
“The occupants of the property came home and discovered a number of items, including jewellery and watches, had been stolen. Enquiries to establish the circumstances are under way and the investigation is ongoing.
“No threat of violence was involved as the items were discovered stolen retrospectively.”
The Daily Mail reported that Sterling’s teammates “are understood to be considering increasing their own levels of personal protection, with the raid being the latest in a string of burglaries on footballer’s homes”.
In a court case in July, former Chelsea and England left-back Ashley Cole said he accepted that “I am going to die” when he was tied up during a 2020 robbery at home, with a pliers-wielding assailant saying, “let’s cut his fingers”.
Manchester United said they would review security after Tahith Chong was robbed at knifepoint – he was the fourth Red Devils player to endure a violent crime in the spell of a few months. Manchester City defender Joao Cancelo posted a photo of his bruised face from a confrontation with robbers over Christmas last year, which he said “terrorised my family”.
England captain Harry Kane, who scored the second goal of the game, said the team wished Sterling their best and hoped to see him again “as soon as possible”.
“It’s never easy to see one of your teammates and friends have to deal with something like that,” he added. “So we’ll have to take it day-by-day, I’m sure Raheem will talk to the manager and take the best decision for him and his family, that’s the most important thing.” REUTERS