Sterling plays as a winger, attacking midfielder or striker, though he is more comfortable as a natural winger. Sterling has been praised for his adaptability and ability to play wide, at the tip of a midfield diamond and centrally, offering flexibility. Known for his pace, low centre of gravity, and dribbling skills, Sterling has been compared to Alexis Sánchez by his former manager Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers has also praised him for offering a “real threat,” his use of pace with composure and his maturity. Despite his small stature, he also possesses considerable upper-body strength, which aids him in withstanding challenges, and retaining possession. Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi said in November 2014 that Sterling is good enough to play for the La Liga club, praising his physical and technical qualities. In April 2015, BBC Sport columnist Phil McNulty wrote that Sterling was “very good with the potential to be outstanding” but remained a “work in progress” due to inconsistent performances. He also wrote, “He is blessed with natural pace that makes even the best defences and defenders take a step back.” In 2013, citing the influence of his mother, Sterling was quoted as saying he was “not 100 per cent religious but my belief is strong. When the time is right, I will fully be Christian.” He added that he put his faith in God and that he prays regularly. He has one daughter, Melody Rose, born in 2012 after a brief relationship. His middle-name Shaquille comes from his grandmother, who was living in America at the time and wanted to name him after Shaquille O’Neal. On 8 August 2013, Sterling was arrested for an alleged common assault on his former girlfriend, a model. He was found not guilty at Liverpool Magistrates Court on 20 September, when the complainant was unable to offer consistent evidence. A few months earlier, on 20 May 2013, a charge of common assault on a different woman was dropped after a witness failed to turn up to court. In April 2015, Sterling was photographed by the Sunday Mirror allegedly smoking a shisha pipe, and by The Sun allegedly inhaling nitrous oxide for recreational purposes. Manager Brendan Rodgers said, “I don’t think it is something you should be doing, it’s as simple as that…Young players make mistakes. As long as they learn from them, that is what is important.” In June 2017, following the Grenfell Tower fire in which 71 people died, Sterling made a “substantial” donation to those affected by the fire. On 16 December 2017, Sterling was attacked outside Manchester City’s training ground by a man who used racist language towards him. Four days later, 29-year-old Karl Anderson, a convicted football hooligan, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated common assault and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison and a £100 fine. The Guardian praised Sterling’s resilience and courage in deciding to play only four hours afterwards. In 2020, Sterling purchased a VVS gold name pendant for his two sons, Thai and Thiago. The jewelry which is estimated to cost $30,000, was designed by British-Nigerian designer and Jeweler, Godson Umeh. Sterling has an M16 rifle tattooed on his leg. He received criticism from anti-violence groups but said that the tattoo had deeper meaning and referred to his father who was killed when Sterling was two years old. He has been named as one of the most influential Black Britons, with his inclusion in the annual Powerlist. How the British tabloid media, like The Sun, cover and treat him has been deemed unfair and racist by pundits including Ian Wright. In 2012, Sterling signed a sponsorship deal with American sportswear and equipment supplier, Nike. He appeared in an advertisement for the new Nike Green Speed II alongside Mario Götze, Theo Walcott, Eden Hazard, Christian Eriksen and Stephan El Shaarawy in November 2012. In January 2013, he modelled the new Nike Mercurial Vapor IX.