Raheem Sterling: Manchester City and England forward talks about England

Southgate became England’s coach in September 2016, bringing them to fourth place at the 2018 World Cup, their first semi-final appearance at the tournament in 28 years.

In July, he guided England to their best performance in a major men’s tournament in 55 years, when they reached the final of Euro 2020, a competition that had been delayed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sterling credited Southgate with “bringing the team together” and making the atmosphere “nice to get in.”

“We know that when your head is as free as you can and you can express yourself, that’s when we see the best versions of you,” Southgate said.

England’s performance in the last two major tournaments has been a significant improvement over Euro 2016, when they suffered a surprise round of 16 outing against Iceland in Nice.

Sterling added: “After the Euro in France, the team came out of it with very bad press. It was a really difficult period for the next two years. The belief was not there within the team.

“When Gareth came along, he really tried to make us understand that yes, that’s what scars are, but how are we going to change it? The team has grown as one.

“We want to do things as a collective. The only thing this team has is that when you enter the building, we are very integrated.”

After the final Euro 2020 defeat to Italy on penalties, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka suffered “unforgivable” racist abuses, who were attacked after their missed shots.

In the run-up to Euro 2020 and throughout the tournament, the England team decided to kneel before matches to highlight racial injustice, despite some criticism.

“This had to be a team that was united in how we looked at it,” Southgate said.

“The guys didn’t realize how powerful it would be to enter the tournament and they wanted to be judged for football. I wanted to represent the players in the best way that I could.”

We want our hands on a trophy ‘
England were unbeaten in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, finishing six points ahead of Poland, which was heading to the play-offs, with eight wins from 10 games.

Following the success at Euro 2020, Sterling said that “there is nothing more important” than winning a major tournament with England.

“I don’t think you can beat that for us as players,” he said.

“I think we have players at the right ages, challenging for the right things and with the mentality of being the best in their position.”

“We have a wonderful coach here who tries to give us the environment to perform at the highest level.”

From almost men to World Cup champions? Can Qatar define Southgate’s legacy?
‘I wanted to be able to help at least one person’
Off the field, the Raheem Sterling Foundation has created “a real sense of joy and meaning,” says the forward.

The foundation, launched in November, focuses on improving social mobility and promoting the education of young people in London, Manchester and Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, where Sterling was born and lived before moving to London at the age of five.

“The most important thing I wanted to do, besides football, was think about the 15-year-old version of myself that went through a lot of difficulties,” he said.

“Society can be brutal at times. I just wanted to help at least one person.

“I am giving back, I am helping. I always say that it is very good that I was able to do a lot with myself at 27, but there is the next generation after us and I always think of 15- I one year at QPR, about to leave to Liverpool, there were many difficult moments.

“With the platform that many footballers and I have, it is really important that we get in touch with our human side and I wanted to help the next Raheem Sterling.”


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