Raheem_Sterling_August_2012_vs_FC_Gomel

Raheem Sterling is one of the young players in the England team for the upcoming World Cup and is a force to be reckoned with

Raheem Sterling has come a long way from his days on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica. A 19-year-old with the world at his feet, the diminutive winger will represent England in the World Cup this summer as he attempts to light up Brazil, just like he claimed his Anfield stardom this year.

Raised without a father figure to look up to, the Liverpool mainstay moved to London alongside his mother at the age of five. His move from Queens Park Rangers to Merseyside, ten years after landing in England, courted a lot of controversy; after all, it is uncommon to hear about a high school student switching employers for £500,000. Yet, Sterling has pounded the notion that he is not just another teenager into the world’s consciousness.

Season Review  

England’s number 19 made his mark on Liverpool’s campaign from November onwards. His first league goal of the season came during his second full game; Norwich were the unlucky victims of his stunning performance. From thereon out, Sterling netted defining goals against Tottenham, Cardiff, Arsenal (2), Southampton, and Manchester City. In addition, he recorded the third highest number of successful dribbles per game in the entire Premier League (behind Eden Hazard and Luis Suarez), while registering less attempts than both per game. Sterling’s much-vaunted versatility saw him line up as a right wing-back, right winger, left winger, and an attacking midfielder, as the Reds made a push for their first Premier League in 24 years.

His defensive maturity, and positional intelligence and awareness afforded Liverpool some much-needed tactical flexibility throughout the season. All in all, Raheem registered 5 assists and 9 goals in 24 starts, while averaging 2.8 dribbles, 1.6 key passes, and  1.9 tackles-and-interceptions per game. It seems necessary at times to restate that Raheem Sterling was only born in December 1994.

His maturity on the pitch seems to translate off it nowadays. Court cases have ceased to come up, while certain shenanigan scandals have stopped surfacing on social media. Today, Raheem is a proud father of his 2-year-old daughter, Melody Rose, and is consistently lauded for his commitment during trainings and game preparations. “He is the toughest in our squad,” reveals Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard. “I don’t go near him in training because if I do, there is only one winner.”

What to Expect

Where Sterling lines up for England is up for debate, as his previously-mentioned adaptability will allow England manager Roy Hodgson to field him anywhere in attack. Depending on the formation, do not be surprised to see Sterling on either wing, or behind the striker. His pace and acceleration might serve as great weapons off the bench, while his willingness to press opponents diligently could be the key to stopping Andrea Pirlo during England’s first battle. That being said, Raheem’s tendency to tire around the 70-minute mark might see him used as a substitute, depending on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fitness. His red card against Ecuador this week will not do his first XI chances a lot of favours, either.

— Omar Ashraf, Correspondent (Sport)

Image Courtesy: Football.ua, Licensed under the the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported | Wikimedia Commons

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