Gareth Southgate has hailed Raheem Sterling’s ‘incredible resilience’ and has picked out the ‘significant’ turning point in his England career.
Sterling has emerged as England’s key player at Euro 2020 so far with three goals in four games, scoring winners in group stage wins against Croatia and the Czech Republic, before opening the scoring in the last-16 victory over Germany.
The 26-year-old arrived into this summer’s European Championship amid doubts over his place in the side following a disappointing campaign at Manchester City, with Southgate hailing Sterling’s ability to perform despite the pre-tournament criticism.
“He is a fighter,” Southgate said. “He has got an incredible resilience and hunger.
“He has developed over the last couple of years this real hunger to score, even in the games where the opportunities where the ball has flashed across the box earlier in the tournament, he has been in between the posts.
“He is finding himself in these areas and yes, his drive is fantastic, we know the journey he has been on with England and I am so happy for him to be able to deliver the performances he has.
“To deliver them at Wembley will have been really special for him and, as you said, the goals return is incredible.
“Absolutely incredible, really, but yes, please keep asking the questions because if we cannot motivate him everyone else will certainly be able to!”
Sterling’s goal against Germany continued an excellent recent record for the national side with the winger having now scored 15 goals in his past 20 appearances for England.
Special celebration for Raheem Sterling 😍 pic.twitter.com/3SuL1db6zj
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 30, 2021
The prolific run has followed a sequence of 27 appearances without a goal at international level and Southgate has spoken on the moment he believes was the turning point for Sterling in replicating his club form for England.
“He was probably only one of the players to come back from the World Cup with a different feeling and I talked to him at length about that,” Southgate said.
“I think Seville (a 3-2 Nations League win against Spain where Sterling scored twice) was a real lift-off moment for him. You could almost see it.
“He almost jumped into the second tier of the stadium if you look at the celebration that night of his goal.
“I really feel this was a significant moment for him and, of course, he had been scoring for his club but had not been able to translate that across.
“Now I think he feels happy in our environment, feels he can be himself, knows the respect we have for him and yes, his performance in every game this tournament, he has been a huge threat for every opponent.”
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