Sheffield United's Rhian Brewster shares theory on how to tackle racism after role model admission

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As a young man of 21, with heroes and role models of his own, Rhian Brewster admits it can feel a little strange to feel that young Sheffield United fans look up to him.

“It’s mad to think,” the former Liverpool man says. “But I try my best to do what I can, both on the pitch and off it.

“A lot of young fans watch what I do and if they see me doing something bad, they might think they can do it. I try to be the best role model I can, by working hard and being good outside of football. And in it, too.”

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Brewster may still be a baby in football terms, but has vast life experience eclipsing most people his age. Born in London, he left Chelsea – and home – at 14 to sign for Liverpool, picking up a Champions League medal during his time at Anfield and also winning the U17 World Cup with England.

His time at Bramall Lane has not worked out so far, even if he will hope that his first league goal for the Blades at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday is a turning point since his club-record move to the Blades.

But Brewster has passed tests of character before. He was racially abused in a UEFA Youth League tie against Spartak Moscow back in 2017 and at that year’s World Cup, he recalls being called a n****r by a Ukraine player. And, four years on, he believes not much has changed.

“There’s still a lot going on in the world that we don’t even know about, in other countries and probably this country too,” Brewster added.

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“Has it [racism] changed during the pandemic? A little bit, with taking the knee before games and stuff like that, but not really. There’s still stuff that’s happening, in the everyday world and in football as well.

Rhian Brewster of Sheffield United (Alex Pantling/Getty Images)Rhian Brewster of Sheffield United (Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
Rhian Brewster of Sheffield United (Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

“We can try to help it as much as possible because we have a platform to do so but in everyday life it still happens. It happens to me. You can't escape it.”

Brewster highlighted a racist message he had been sent on Instagram back in March. "Overrated n*****," it read. "You're s***, poo boy."

After South Yorkshire Police launched an investigation, they identified individuals outside of their area and referred the case to their colleagues in Staffordshire and West Yorkshire. Staffordshire officers spoke to a boy who accepted responsibility for the abuse. He was 14 years old and referred to youth offending services.

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“What do I want to happen about it? I've already said, in football I want to see bans happening,” Brewster added.

Rhian Brewster of Sheffield United and England U21s (Marc Atkins/Getty Images)Rhian Brewster of Sheffield United and England U21s (Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Rhian Brewster of Sheffield United and England U21s (Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

“But in everyday life, I just want more education on it. Even to the older generation. Sometimes they don't know and if they're feeding it to their children or younger people, then it's going to keep going on. So it might have to start in the older generation and work its way down.”

“During the pandemic everyone had more time on their hands,” Brewster added. “So some people could make a fake account quicker.

“Now you can find out who it was, or what device it came from. It’s a bit better but it’s still going to happen, and we’ve got to try and make it as minimal as possible.”

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