Antonio Valencia has apologised to his team-mates and coach after grabbing Liverpool ace Raheem Sterling by the neck in England’s 2-2 draw with Ecuador in Miami.
Valencia and Sterling were sent off with 11 minutes remaining of the match at the Sun Life Stadium.
Sterling went over the top of the ball, taking Valencia out, and the Ecuador captain responded by going for the England winger’s neck.
Valencia made a point of saying sorry to his fellow players and coach Reinaldo Rueda following the game.
“I am sorry for the fight with Sterling,” said Valencia, who as a Manchester United player is a club rival of Liverpool’s Sterling.
“I apologised to the team after the match and the coach.”
Team-mate Segundo Castillo nearly missed out on Ecuador’s World Cup squad because of a knee injury he sustained against Mexico.
Valencia reacted so aggressively against Sterling because he feared the Liverpool winger could have ended his World Cup prospects with he tackle.
“When he (Sterling) tackled me I thought about Segundo Castillo,” Valencia said.
“He nearly missed the World Cup because of injury and I feared I would too, but thankfully I am okay.”
Valencia’s cousin, Enner Valencia, put Ecuador ahead on Wednesday, but England took the lead thanks to goals from Wayne Rooney and Rickie Lambert.
Michael Arroyo equalised for Ecuador in the second half as England failed to deal with the South Americans’ pace, but Valencia was impressed with the performance of Roy Hodgson’s side.
Valencia even rates England as a better team than Mexico and Holland, whom Ecuador have played recently.
“England are the best team we’ve played so far,” Valencia said.