Cleared Sheffield Wednesday forward Fernando Forestieri says he felt sorry for his parents after he was accused of racially aggravated harassment following an incident in a pre-season friendly.
The 29-year-old was found not guilty at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court yesterday after being charged in relation to a post-match brawl on July 24 last year.
District Judge Jonathan Taffe said he could not be satisfied the footballer used a racial slur towards Mansfield’s Krystian Pearce.
But he said he believed Mr Pearce was ‘unlikely’ to have been mistaken about hearing it.
In a statement, Forestieri said: “I’m very happy because these few months have not been easy but now I can focus on football. And I hope we can all do something nice for the club.
“Of course it affected me, and my family. My wife, my mum, my dad, my grandma, they are in Argentina and they have been very sad.
“Now I think I’m more clear in my mind because although I tried not to think about it, it’s impossible. You think about it because you are very sad and disappointed because I know I am not like that.
“I am not a person or player who is racist or who tries to say offensive things to my colleagues. The first rule in football, and in life, is respect. This is how your mum teaches you, it’s about respect in life. It doesn’t matter about your religion or the country you come from, you need to respect.
“When I was accused of that, I feel so bad to my mum and dad because it looks like I don’t have manners. And the first thing my mum taught me was to have respect for other people.”
Forestieri, who joined the Owls in 2015, said he was looking forward to returning to action in Wednesday’s match at Stoke City.
He added: “Now I’m focused on tomorrow and let’s see how we prepare the game and what the gaffer wants us to do.
“We try to do our best, if I play I will do my best. If I am on the bench and come on even for ten minutes or however long the gaffer needs from me I will do my best to help the team.
“I’m a happy boy but what has happened has made me very sad, but now I want to forget and focus on these eight games.
“I don’t care if I score or not, I just want to help the team, and if I help another player score a goal that is more important.
“We know we have very tough games, but in the Championship everything is possible, so we need to think about tomorrow and let’s see.”