Valencia issues apology
Antonio Valencia (AFP)
Cape Town - Antonio Valencia apologised for grabbing Raheem Sterling by the neck in England's 2-2 draw with Ecuador in Miami - but says he was worried of picking up an injury that would end his World Cup.
Both players were sent for an early shower with 11 minutes remaining of the international friendly match held at the Sun Life Stadium.
According to ESPN UK, Valencia feared picking up an injury that would end his participation in the 2014 Soccer World Cup.
The incident seemed to spark from nowhere as Sterling went over the top of the ball, taking Valencia out, and the Ecuador captain responded angrily by grabbing the young England winger by the neck and shoving him.
Valencia apologised to his fellow players as well as coach Reinaldo Rueda following the game.
"I am sorry for the fight with Sterling," said Valencia.
Valencia reacted so aggressively against Sterling because he feared the Liverpool winger could have ended his Soccer World Cup prospects with he reckless tackle.
"When he tackled me, I thought about Segundo Castillo"
"He nearly missed the World Cup because of injury and I feared I would too, but thankfully I am okay."
Segundo Castillo nearly missed the Soccer World Cup due a knee injury picked up in another international friendly.
Enner Valencia put Ecuador ahead on but England responded well with goals from Wayne Rooney and Rickie Lambert. Michael Arroyo equalised for Ecuador with a thunderous strike which England number 2 goalkeeper Ben Foster could little about.
Valencia was impressed with the performance of Roy Hodgson's side.
"England are the best team we've played so far," Valencia said. Seemingly rating England as a better team than Mexico and Holland, whom Ecuador have played recently.