Southgate enjoying Sterling's rise to superstar status

By Sports Desk September 11, 2019

Gareth Southgate has welcomed Raheem Sterling becoming a star player for England and hailed the forward's increasing influence on and off the pitch.

Sterling initially struggled to turn his club form for Manchester City into high-level performances for the Three Lions, regularly facing strong criticism over his performances.

He branded himself "The Hated One" in a post on social media while enduring a difficult time during England's unsuccessful Euro 2016 campaign.

Since then, however, Sterling has grown to play a key role for England with a stunning run of eight goals in his past eight appearances demonstrating his importance for Southgate's side.

Sterling equalised in Tuesday's 5-3 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Kosovo and created a further three goals, including providing assists for both of Jadon Sancho's maiden international goals.

The attacker has also become a social figurehead, drawing praise for speaking out over racism and going viral for his interactions with supporters, with manager Southgate delighted to have a front-row seat to Sterling's continued rise to superstardom.

"For me, it's lovely to see the shift in the public opinion of him," Southgate said of the 24-year-old.

"That's still a brave thing to decide that: 'Right, I'm going to own that space and I'm going to put my own views across'. But those views represent many as well, so I think he's aware of the power of his voice, but he also doesn't waste it.

"I think he was very forthright in his social media posts [about racism]. I think he raised everybody's awareness and made us all think, which was very mature and impressive. And, at the same time, he rose to the challenge with his club, with new signings coming in.

"You know, when you are at a club like that, to keep fighting off the quality of players that he has; and straight away with us, got the goals in Spain - first game after the World Cup for him, really. Croatia away, Spain. I think it was such a huge weight lifted for him, he almost jumped six foot in the stadium, didn't he? 

"So I think from that moment - because he did come home a bit sad after the World Cup, there's no hiding from that. He didn't deserve to feel that way, but that's as he was, so it's lovely to see the recognition he's getting and how much extra I think that's bringing out of him.

"If there are things that he thinks can be better with the mentality of the players or the way that we've set the week out, he'll thoughtfully put ideas across; he doesn't just sit and complain.

"But then you see his interaction with the players. I noticed, over the last 24 hours especially [prior to facing Kosovo], he spent a lot of time with Jadon, I think that was probably quite a comfort.

"He can pass things on that I can speak [about] as the coach, but there'll be more depth to that if your fellow winger who has been at the same club as you, and has been through what you’re going to go through can talk to you. I think that's far more powerful. You can't quantify what that will have meant for Jadon."

Asked how Sterling will have felt to have been made a scapegoat earlier in his international career, Southgate said: "Difficult for me to say. I can only imagine. Everyone wants to be liked, don't they?

"Everybody, players give their all. He's a player that has always given his all… You know how much it means to him, how much he wants to do well.

"So, I think it's for him to reflect on how he might have felt then and, for me, it's just lovely to see a young man establishing himself, at the real top table in the game."

Southgate indicated he also sees an England future for Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, who qualifies to play for Nigeria in addition to the Three Lions.

"Tammy is a young player that we’ve always liked, we know he'll score goals," he said. "We felt it was a bit early this time to call him up, but we really can see that he can offer us something moving forward.

"We gave him a cap back in November of 2017. For sure, we need to make certain that he feels that the opportunity is going to be there. I'm pretty sure he does, he knows us well enough."

Related items

  • Hudson-Odoi supports England team stance on racist abuse Hudson-Odoi supports England team stance on racist abuse

    Callum Hudson-Odoi has supported the idea of walking off the pitch as a team in response to racist abuse at football grounds.

    The Chelsea winger suffered abuse on his first start for the Three Lions in Montenegro last May which he described as "evil" at the time.

    The 18-year-old is hoping to force his way into the Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad as he makes his way back from an Achilles injury suffered last season.

    Hudson-Odoi scored twice in a 5-1 win for England’s under-21s against Austria on Tuesday and said he was proud of the solidarity shown by the senior players and coaching staff when questioned about the unsavoury scenes in Bulgaria.

    "It’s disgusting to hear or see players getting discriminated against," he told reporters.

    "It’s not right. I say to myself whenever that happens you have to stick together as a team, which the boys did.

    "I am really proud to see the boys stick together in those situations where they say they would walk off the pitch. It is right because no player should be treated differently.

    "We’re all equal and it’s an equal game, so we have got to stay strong. Hopefully everything will be sorted out properly by UEFA."

  • Danilo back in Juventus training ahead of Bologna match Danilo back in Juventus training ahead of Bologna match

    Danilo has returned to full training with Juventus after recovering from a thigh injury

    The 28-year-old, who joined from Manchester City in August, was forced off during the 2-1 win at Brescia on September 24.

    However, the club announced Danilo took part in Wednesday's session at Juventus Training Centre. He may now be involved in Saturday's home league clash with Bologna.

    Aaron Ramsey, who missed Wales' Euro 2020 qualifiers against Slovakia and Croatia because of a slight muscle injury, also took part in light training.

    Right-back Mattia De Sciglio and winger Douglas Costa are on personalised training programmes, Juventus announced on their website, while Rodrigo Bentancur and Miralem Pjanic were granted an extra day off following their international exertions.

    Juventus are top of Serie A after making a seven-game unbeaten start to the campaign.

  • PSG midfielder Gueye out for 10 days with hamstring injury PSG midfielder Gueye out for 10 days with hamstring injury

    Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye has been ruled out of action for 10 days with a hamstring injury.

    Gueye, who joined PSG from Everton in July, is expected to miss their games against Nice and Club Brugge over the next week.

    The Senegal international is also a major doubt for the league clash with Marseille on Sunday 27.

    A statement on PSG's official website read: "Idrissa Gueye felt hamstring pain and today's exams confirmed a contracture. He will be away from training for the next 10 days."

    Gueye has made eight appearances for PSG since his move, with the Ligue 1 champions winning each of those matches.

    PSG discovered on Monday that star forward Neymar will miss around a month after also suffering a hamstring injury while on international duty with Brazil.

    Thomas Tuchel's side are two points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after nine matches.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.