A little over two years ago, Raheem Sterling (of no relation, as far as we know, to Donald) was embarrassed by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on national television when the then 17-year-old speedster was trying to break into the first team. Up until that point, Sterling had three appearances for Liverpool’s first team under his hipster belt. How would he deal with Rodgers and his stern, no-nonsense style and weirdly perfect teeth?
“Sterling, you know what you said.”
It could have been all downhill from there, especially considering what we know about English talent at big clubs on the cusp of “making it.”
Yet, two years later, Sterling’s resume is, forgive us, sterling. Those three Liverpool appearances have turned into 87 first team appearances and 15 goals. In two years. It’s crazy to think that Sterling is still only 19 years old, despite the fact that he has 81-year-old Little Richard’s hair. And to go along with those 19 years, Lil’ Sterling has 13 England caps and one World Cup on his Résumé. Plenty of grown professional players would kill for those stats. Probably literally kill someone.
Pace, trickery, directness, close control, an eye for the pass, the touch of an angel, body control. Sterling has all the attributes that previous speedy England wingers over the past decade almost had, but could never quite produce with any regularity. He also has the ability and awareness to tuck inside and play centrally. But on top of all that, Raheem has style. It may not be the kind of style you’re into, but you can’t really dispute it. The kid was probably popping his collar on his own as an infant.
What else do you expect from a man who looks like half Little Richard, half Ginuwine? The style has to be there, and it’s consistently reflected on the field.
Here’s the only exercise you need to put Raheem Sterling in perspective: Think of another 19-year-old attacking player you would take over him right now. We’re almost certain you’re struggling to think of names.
The Fake numbers
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