'It's not something I'd ever have imagined' – Sterling 'privileged' to captain England in Ivory Coast win

By Sports Desk March 29, 2022

Raheem Sterling spoke of his pride after recording a goal and an assist while standing in as England captain for Tuesday's 3-0 win over Ivory Coast.

The Manchester City winger teed up Ollie Watkins' opener before turning home the second goal after Serge Aurier had seen red for the visitors, donning the captain's armband as regular skipper Harry Kane started on the bench. 

Tyrone Mings added a late third for Gareth Southgate's men, with the Three Lions maintaining their record of having never lost to an African team, winning 14 and drawing six of their 20 clashes with sides from the continent.

Sterling's strike at Wembley, meanwhile, was his first ever friendly goal for England, with the first 18 of his 19 international goals coming in competitive fixtures.

Speaking to Sky Sports in the aftermath of the win, Sterling highlighted the role England's senior players have played in welcoming a raft of new faces to a much-changed squad this month.

"It's a good night," he said. "It's always an honour to get the opportunity to wear the captain's armband, and I thought it was a great team performance in the end.

"[Being captain] is a great privilege. Never in my wildest imagination, as a young player coming through, did I think that I would captain England one day. It's not something I'd ever have imagined. 

"I remember coming through as a young player, and it's always nice when senior players put their arm around you and make you feel comfortable, because it's a new environment, at the end of the day.

"All we can do is try to make the new players as comfortable as possible, so they can play as well as they can."

England, meanwhile, are now unbeaten in their last 22 games in all competitions inside 90 minutes, recording 18 wins and four draws during that time.

And Sterling said the Euro 2020 runners-up have to take things "game-by-game" if they are to better that run at the World Cup later this year.

"We've had two good friendlies here, where the manager has tried different formations and different teams," Sterling added.

"All we can do is just continue to build on last summer, go one game at a time, get through this summer and put in some good performances."

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