Raheem Sterling takes centre stage for England to repay Gareth Southgate faith

The Manchester City forward has proved his doubters wrong and is now a mainstay in the Three Lions line-up, producing the goods in the pivotal moments for his nation

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Gareth Southgate post Hungary

Raheem Sterling has become England’s most important player.

Yet England boss Gareth Southgate believes Sterling still has to “continually prove himself” because he does not get the credit he deserves.

Sterling has now scored 16 goals in his last 24 games for England, was England’s driving force at the Euros and has carried on this season where he left off last.

The Manchester City striker used to struggle for confidence but now relishes taking centre stage with his performances and leading by example.

Southgate regards him as the hard working, humble superstar who is happy to be part of the team but also believes his world class ability is not always truly appreciated.

Raheem Sterling has become an irreplaceable figure in Gareth Southgate’s England team


Pool via REUTERS)

Sterling now faces a battle for his place at City with new competition and yet he was the player who started the Champions League final.

He was also City’s only England player to start their first game of the season at Tottenham on the opening weekend after just two days of full training.

That underlines just how important he is to Pep Guardiola. But still it seems he has to answer doubts around his future when clearly he is one of City’s most important players as well as for England.

“I do think he doesn’t really get the recognition he deserves,” said Southgate. “He often goes under the radar and almost seems to have to continually prove himself. I was asked about that in the summer so let’s hope he has to keep proving himself in the way he did again for us.

“I’ve got a very good relationship with him, he knows what we think of him, he’s very comfortable in our environment. There’s incredible competition for places at Manchester City as well as here but for us he has just been consistently a player who has delivered in matches and we have had complete faith in him.

“He has more than rewarded that faith in the goals he has scored. This summer he was outstanding.”

Sterling’s emergence as an irreplaceable player for England did not come in the Euros but long before when perhaps not everyone was watching when he scored twice in a 3-2 win in Spain in October 2018.

Is Raheem Sterling England’s most important player? Comment below

There has been no looking back since. Considering he won the Premier League three times in four years, trophies galore at City and was so integral for England, it is hard to argue that he does not get the recognition. No-one with any football knowledge would possibly question him.

Southgate also believes that he is unselfish and fits in with the group despite his personal success and achievements. The manager added: “He has been consistently one of our most important players. I know it is great that we haven’t got one star player who everybody ends up talking about which is remarkable when you consider we have the likes of Harry Kane and Sterling and others in the group.

“It is always about the collective but his performances have been so important to us for such a long time. He really sets the tone with the way he works without the ball.

“When you have a creative talent like he is, that is prepared to really commit to the team and weigh in with the goals and assists that he has over a long period of time now, he has been a fabulous player for us to work with and he is so important to what we do.”

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