Sterling joined Manchester City in July 2015, with the Etihad outfit paying Liverpool £49million for the forward.
De Bruyne joined the same summer, the former Chelsea flop returning to England from German side Wolfsburg, but he was wary of his new team-mate to begin with.
The pair have both shone for City, and De Bruyne played a brilliant through-ball for Sterling’s first against Crystal Palace on Saturday as they went back to the top of the Premier League for a few hours in their battle for the title with Liverpool.
But the Belgian admitted, in a brutally honest interview published this morning, that he thought the 24-year-old was going to be arrogant and didn’t think they would get on.
“I am a brutally honest person,” De Bruyne wrote for The Players’ Tribune. “So I will let you in on a little secret.
“Before I came to Manchester City, I didn’t really know what to make of this Raheem Sterling guy.
“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 thought.… Well.… 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?”
However upon reflection De Bruyne, who along with Sterling helped City win the title with 100 points last year and has them on course to defend it this time around, says he couldn’t have been more wrong.
The pair now have a close bond in part due to their sons being born at a similar time, and their relationship has blossomed on the pitch.
“Raheem and I have this strong connection, because we arrived at City around the same time, and there was a lot of negativity about us in the press,” the Belgium star added.
“They said I was ‘the Chelsea reject.’ They said Raheem was this flashy guy who left Liverpool for money. They said we were difficult characters.
“Of course, when you read this stuff about yourself, you think, Me? I’m not difficult. This is ridiculous. These people don’t even know me!
“But honestly, when you read about other players, it influences the way you think. You can’t help it.
“Then I got to City and I actually met Raheem, and we’d talk a bit after training, and I thought, Wait, this guy seems really cool? What’s the story here?
“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.
“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.”