Raheem Sterling is now being talked about as one of the best players in the world after an outstanding year for club and country. The 24-year-old led Manchester City to the domestic treble in 2018/19 after a brilliant season in which he established himself as one of top players in the Premier League.
His performances led to him being crowned FWA Footballer of the Year at the end of season, but he only just missed out on the PFA Player of the Year to Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk. His top-quality displays continued as he started the 2019/20 magnificent form, scoring six goals in his first five games.
The England forward scored a goal and got three assists in a stunning display during England’s 5-3 win over Kosovo in the Euro 2020 qualifiers on Wednesday. He is now being talked about as one of the best players on the planet.
Sterling was a prodigious talent at a young age. His abilities were soon spotted as he was signed by Liverpool from his boyhood club Queens Park Rangers at the age of 15 in 2010. He broke into the Liverpool team at the age of 17 in 2012 and made his senior debut for England later that same year.
After becoming one of the stars of the team and taking the club to the brink of the Premier League title in 2014, he eventually left to sign for Manchester City in the summer of 2015 for a deal reported to be worth £44m potentially rising to £49m.
He had a tough first two years the club as he failed to get his Premier League goal tally to double figures in his first two seasons. He was often criticised for his lack of cutting edge as he constantly got into good positions, but the final ball seemed to be lacking.
At one point in the summer of 2017, there was speculation that he might leave the club for Arsenal in a swap deal for Alexis Sanchez, but this rumour was quickly dismissed by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Sanchez eventually joined City’s rivals Manchester United as Sterling stayed on.
He improved rapidly in 2017/18 season, scoring 18 goals in the Premier League. Since then he has gone on to become one of the club’s top stars and seems to be one of the first names on the team sheet each week. Former England striker Alan Shearer also spoke of the 24-year-old’s improvement last month.
"When he gets in good positions now, you're surprised if he doesn't score," Shearer said on Match of the Day. "He is so confident and has so much belief in himself. He was almost unplayable.
"His numbers in the last two years are outstanding - 35 goals and 32 assists in the Premier League. And in the last six years he's played more than 30 times every year - incredible, what a player!"
His stardom has come with its fair share of problems as he has recovered from multiple incidents of racial abuse by opposing fans. He was even once attacked by a racist hooligan outside the Manchester City training ground but fortunately he did not suffer any serious injuries. The culprit was later caught and jailed.
Following his performance in the win over Kosovo, former England star Chris Waddle told BBC Radio 5 Live how he thinks Sterling has improved. “When you see Raheem Sterling run with the ball at defenders, once he gets the other side of you, you aren't going to catch him. He used to scuff things or not hit it properly, he's at a fantastic club and working with great footballers and he's learned, not just from Pep Guardiola but the players he works with.”
He feels that the Jamaican born Brit can get even better and added he could well be in the top ten players already. “He needs to show at the Euros how good he is and then at the next World Cup. He hasn't reached his peak yet. He's on the rise very quickly.
“Would I put him in the top 10 in the world? I'd have to sit down and look at all the players but he's in the conversation.”