Player in focus: Raheem Sterling

When I was told a few years back to ‘remember the name of Raheem Sterling’, I casually noted it down in my mental diary of ones to watch in the future. However, little did I know Sterling would progress so quickly in such a minute space of time, and is now beating full-backs for fun in the Premier League.

A pacey winger that is so technically gifted on both feet these days is quite an achievement to find, but this is exactly what Liverpool have been rewarded with after taking a chance on a teenage boy who grew up on the gritty streets of London.

Sterling emigrated to Wembley after spending the first 5 years of his life in Jamaica living with his grandmother, but instead of getting up to mischief like the majority of the children in his new-found home, the youngster pounced on his natural ability with a football and began to structure himself to try and break into the game.

His gigantic potential was first spotted by West Ham United, where he would start his youth career before he moved across London to continue his growth with QPR, but his big break in football came when then-manager Rafa Benitez snapped him up back in 2010, for a fee that could soon rise to up to £5m.

Whilst quietly perfecting his game, Sterling was scoring for fun in the Liverpool youth system. His performance against Southend United in the youth FA Cup was a particular highlight, in which the whizz-kid scored a monumental 5 goals and propelled himself closer to the first team squad. His chance eventually came, and in March 2012 he arrived to the pitch as a second half substitute in Liverpool’s 2-1 loss to Wigan Athletic, and although the team were booed off the pitch at the final whistle, Sterling was heaped with praise for his display.

With Brendan Rodgers arriving at Anfield, along with his pass-and-move football philosophy, Sterling’s bud of potential is rapidly blossoming into a magnificent Premier League footballer. The pint-sized wonder-kid has featured heavily in Liverpool’s opening to the new season, and although it has been a slow start for the team and their new found playing system, Sterling’s form has been nothing short of spectacular and warranted him a call-up to Roy Hodgson’s England side that went up against Ukraine in a recent World Cup 2014 qualifier.

Sterling’s blistering speed contributes immensely to his all-round game, but his pin-point crossing, his close ball control and the ease in which he can beat established top flight defenders sets him apart from the crop of England’s young talent. With his no-fear attitude and his willingness to run at opponents, Sterling is already making himself a hero with the famous Anfield Kop.

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