Kevin De Bruyne has admitted to thinking Raheem Sterling would be a "d***head" before getting to know his "humble" Manchester City team-mate.
Midfielder De Bruyne and England star Sterling signed for City within just over a month of each other in 2015 and have been at the forefront of the club's successful spell under Pep Guardiola.
But as the Belgium international revealed in a column for The Players' Tribune website, he feared the portrayal of Sterling as "flashy" in some sections of the media would put their personalities at odds.
"Before I came to Manchester City, I didn't really know what to make of this Raheem Sterling guy," De Bruyne said.
"I had never met him, and from what I'd read about him in the English press, I thought he was going to be a very different character.
"I didn't think he'd be a bad guy, really. But the tabloids were always claiming that he was arrogant. So, I guess I thought he'd be... what do the English call it? A bit of a d***head, maybe?"
Sterling, who moved to the Etihad Stadium from Liverpool for a fee reportedly nearing £50million, has often spoken out against his unfavourable depiction in certain news publications.
The race continues... pic.twitter.com/BiuCWa77Ui— Kevin De Bruyne (@DeBruyneKev) April 14, 2019
More recent attention has centred on his campaigning against racial abuse and his star performances in City's push for a second successive Premier League title.
De Bruyne assisted the first of the attacker's two goals in Sunday's 3-1 win at Crystal Palace and revealed their "strong connection" extends beyond the pitch.
"Truthfully, I don't have many close friends - inside or outside of football. It takes me a really long time to open up to people," the former Chelsea and Wolfsburg man said.
"But over time I got closer to Raheem, because our sons were born around the same time, so they would always play together.
"I really got to know Raheem, and I recognised what a smart and genuine person he is. He couldn't be more different from what the tabloids were saying.
"This is the real truth: Raheem is one of the nicest, most humble guys I've met in football."
21. April 2019
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20. April 2019
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