Former Liverpool star Glen Johnson has told talkSPORT he still feels ‘stuck in the middle’ about the Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra racism saga, saying he would ‘never be friends with a racist’.

Jamie Carragher publicly apologised to the ex-Manchester United defender this week, admitting live on Sky Sports that the club ‘made a massive mistake’ by backing Suarez in the 2011 storm.

The Uruguayan striker was handed an eight-game ban by the Football Association in December 2011 for using insulting and abusive language at Evra earlier in the season.

Liverpool responded to the suspension by having their players wear T-shirts in support of their team-mate, which resulted in a huge amount of criticism aimed at the club.

Glen Johnson and his Liverpool team-mates warm up wearing a shirt supporting Luis Suarez

AFP

Glen Johnson and his Liverpool team-mates warm up wearing a shirt supporting Luis Suarez

Johnson has also apologised to Evra for the incident, admitting the Reds’ reaction was misguided.

Nonetheless, he did also defend Suarez and the club, saying Liverpool’s response came from a good place and was merely a sign of support for their player and his friend, who he insists is no racist.

The former defender told talkSPORT host Jim White on Thursday: “Carra was right to apologise and I’d have to agree with him; I think the timing of it was wrong as the ban was so close.

“But in the club’s defence, they were just trying to support one of their players.

“I don’t think anyone in that dressing room or at the club believed Luis was racist or capable of being racist.

“Of course he got the ban, and I’m certainly not saying Patrice is lying, but I never heard anything, so I don’t know. Nobody heard what went on, the only people who know the truth is those two.

Suarez said the word ‘negro’ towards Evra, but has maintained he didn’t intend it as a racial slur as the conversation between them was in Spanish, where such terms are apparently commonplace.

getty

Suarez said the word ‘negro’ towards Evra, but has maintained he didn’t intend it as a racial slur as the conversation between them was in Spanish, where such terms are apparently commonplace.

“I know Luis really well and I get on well with him, so I find it very, very hard to believe that he would have done something like that.

“It’s a very sticky situation for me; I’m stuck in the middle because Luis and I are good mates, and I wouldn’t be friends with a racist. I wouldn’t be. I’d be the first to turn my back on him and that’s why it’s awkward for me.

“But of course I have to apologise to Patrice as well. We got it wrong.

“I just think the club were trying to protect him knowing how much of a nice guy he is and trying to keep their ship steady.”

Johnson admitted he feels ‘awkward’ about the whole situation as a close friend of Suarez, but also as a black footballer.

Glen Johnson still feels stuck in the middle about the Suarez/Evra situation, but insists his friend is no racist

getty

Glen Johnson still feels stuck in the middle about the Suarez/Evra situation, but insists his friend is no racist

And asked about the ill-advised T-shirts, the former right-back admits he had a bad feeling about wearing one but said it would have made the situation even worse had he refused to pull it on.

“There was no meeting or chat about it, the T-shirts were just handed out before the warm up and, like Carra said, if one or two put it one everyone has to put it on,” he added.

“They asked if everyone was happy to wear it, and a few of the guys said it was fine, so everyone put it on.

“And also, at the time I was the only black player in the XI, so if I didn’t put it on, it would have been a bigger storm in the fact that I would have been the only one.

“So it’s awkward.

“It was one of those moments where you’re thinking, ‘I hope I’m not getting this wrong’.”

Luis Suarez: Lost in translation?

Luis Suarez has repeatedly insisted what he said to Evra had no racist connotations, and said in his book published in 2014:

“I was banned for eight games and, much worse, got labelled a racist for life. You can call me “big-mouth”, “biter”, “diver”. There is proof. But to call me a racist – that hurts a lot. It’s a serious accusation. It’s a slur on my name that no one can take away. What some people will never want to accept is that the argument took place in Spanish. I did not use the word “negro” the way it can be used in English. Negro can refer to anyone with dark hair as well as dark skin, I’ve been used to the word being used in Spanish in this way all my life. My wife sometimes calls me “Negro”, my grandmother used to call my grandfather “Negrito” and she would occasionally call me that too. I’m not trying to pretend it was meant in a friendly way to Evra because clearly we were arguing. But nor was it ever meant as a racist slur.”

Listen back to a clip of Glen Johnson on the Suarez/Evra racism saga above

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