Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia has been forced to apologise to Raheem Sterling after throttling the Liverpool star during England’s pre-World Cup friendly with Ecuador, according to the Express.
The Three Lions were held to a 2-2 draw in Miami as Roy Hodgson made a raft of changes to the starting XI which beat Peru last Friday. However arguably the biggest talking point of the match was when Sterling and Valencia both saw red, after a misjudged tackle from the former led to a scuffle which saw the latter grab him by the throat.
Referee Jair Marrufo gave both men their marching orders in a decision which only further fuelled the already deep-rooted rivalry between their respective clubs sides. However, far from refusing to accept his share of the blame Valencia, who many feel overreacted following Sterling’s challenge, said: “I am sorry for the fight with Sterling.
"I apologised to the team after the match and the coach."
The South American then went on to reveal the primary reason behind his attack on his opposite number, citing a fear that Sterling’s challenge could have ended his World Cup dreams.
"When he tackled me I thought about Segundo Castillo," Valencia added.
"He nearly missed the World Cup because of injury and I feared I would too, but thankfully I am okay."
Neither man will be forced to sit out of any games in the upcoming tournament as a result of their dismissals, but Sterling’s hasty slide tackle may have given Hodgson food for thought, as referees at major competitions are notorious for a no nonsense style of adjudicating.