Kevin De Bruyne hopes Raheem Sterling is acknowledged appropriately for his performances at the World Cup.
The Manchester City team-mates may face off Saturday as Belgium play England for a second time at the tournament in the third-place playoff in St. Petersburg.
Neither player was involved during the first meeting between the sides as both managers elected to rest their stars ahead of important knockout matches.
De Bruyne has obviously had his attention focused on Belgium’s progress through the tournament, but does not understand why Sterling receives the criticism he does.
“I don’t understand why you should criticise the people of your own country because, in the end, all they are trying to do is win,” he said.
“I think he did really well in the games that I saw. Obviously, if you don’t score a goal, then it’s different but not everything in football is about goals.
“Hopefully the press and the media can give him the love that he deserves because, obviously, he’s a very easy going guy and he gives everything for England – even with the criticism sometimes.”
De Bruyne, 27, is also looking forward to linking up with the England winger again when Manchester City aim to defend their Premier League title.
“I think Raheem [Sterling] is a wonderful player. Since the day that I came to City, he came in the same year, we clicked really well,” he said.
“I think he’s very important for what he does at Manchester City and I hope he can stay a lot longer.”