Mens Team

Sterling on home-schooling, shirt collecting, Silva and Ronaldinho!

Raheem Sterling says he is grateful for the time spent with family, during the lockdown period.

With the country in isolation at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 25-year-old admits he is missing the beautiful game.

However, the forward asserts he is focusing on the positives and has appreciated the quality time with his three children and partner Paige, including the home-schooling!

“It has been weird but we are well – the family is well, the kids are well,” he said.

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“It is another opportunity to be with the family. A lot of time, we are on the road so it gives us an opportunity to be there and take the leading role in the house and give the missus a rest for once!

“At first, I didn’t have a structure in place when we first started because I didn’t know what was going on exactly but I have to be ready and keep myself fit, while at the same time having the afternoon off to have some time learning and studying with the kids, trying to balance it out in the right way.

“Everyone is well.”

Although an avid collector of football shirts, Sterling admits he has not yet taken to decorating his house with the memorabilia – instead planning to save the mementos for the future.

“I am a shirt collector,” he explained, “but I have not put any shirts on my wall as of yet.

“I like to keep my house family orientated but when I finish football and settle somewhere, I will have many shirts to choose from and pick my favourites that I have played against and do a room of trophies and football shirts.

“I think there is only one that I really want to be honest with you and that is a Messi shirt.

“We played Barcelona and I got a Neymar shirt and I think that is the first shirt I ever asked for so that’s still in my cupboard for when I go to Jamaica, that’s for sure.

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“Probably when I was 17, 18, 19 I was in awe (of great players). (When I was young, I looked up to) Ronaldinho. If you check my history on YouTube, I think I have watched every single clip of his playing career.

“He was a player that I used to go in the garden to try to recreate but it could never be have done. I tried it to the best of my ability, but he was something special.

“Steven Gerrard was the first person I felt a bit in awe of – I couldn’t believe I was standing in front of him but not now, it is just strictly business: ‘I need to beat your team’ and it is as simple as that.

“I think they are a great player and everything but I don’t really dwell on that anymore.”

One player Sterling remains ‘in awe of’ is teammate David Silva – for his exceptional traits off-the-pitch as well as on it: a player the England star hopes will one day hold a commemorative place in his shirt collection!

“One thing I have definitely learnt from David is to be humble,” he stated. “He is the most humble football player you will ever meet in your life and the trophies that he has behind him to back him up just shows you.

“When you go onto the next level and you are doing all of these wonderful things, keep that humility about yourself and carry yourself in a decent way.

“He is a perfect example of not just how to be a great professional but a top player with many trophies behind him.

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“He will be sorely missed because he brings so much joy to the Club but if you want to follow his example, it is always to keep that humility and win trophies.

“[When I look back on my career] I will have a couple of his shirts in my house in Jamaica, hopefully.”

While he may not be out on the pitch in person, Sterling has been spending some of his free time representing City on FIFA 20 in the ePremier League Invitational, as the best FIFA player in Pep Guardiola’s squad.

Having reached the semi-finals with victories over Wilfried Zaha and Andre Gomes, the forward insists he plans to go all the way.

“When the matches come, I will be ready,” he added. “On FIFA, a lot of people have their own rules.

“My rule is to win – by any means, to win. He [Zaha] found it a bit dirty but at the end of the day, I am sat here talking to you and looking forward to the next round.”

Flourishing under Guardiola’s guidance, Sterling credits that ‘winning mentality’ to his manager’s influence.

“I think that is the most important thing that I have learnt from him – the winning mentality,” he reflected. “I remember – not last season but the season before – we were so far clear but he still wanted to get 100 points and that just shows everything about him.

“It is not just to do well but do it to the maximum that you can and I think that is a massive thing I have learnt from him.

“Before it was: if I won a game then it was good and if I lost a game, I was disappointed but it doesn’t burn you as much.  Now, if we lose one game in 15 at City, you wouldn’t like to be in the dressing room.

“It is like the worst thing in the world has happened. I think that is a great surrounding and thing to be in – that nobody wants to lose or accepts losing. That is something that I carry with me – not just in football but in anything I do: just that winning mentality to constantly want to win and to not take defeat for an answer.

“Collectively, we have the same ambitions: to win competitions and win as many as we can, so it reflects on what the manager is trying to do and the players are taking it on board superbly well and I think we still have another level to go.

“I would say my mentality (has been my biggest improvement). That’s the first thing I needed to get right.

“A lot of people forget that we are doing this for the first time. We play football all our lives as kids but we reach a stage where we are now professionals and we don’t quite know what is going to happen or what to do.

“After you then have a year or two in the professional world and understand what is needed to be done, it is down to you to create that environment for yourself to thrive on and I think I have done that tremendously well.

“I am not trying to blow my own trumpet but that is what I have done, having that focus and drive to say: ‘I have done what I needed to do but this is the point where I need to kick on’ and ‘this is how I am going to kick on and I need to stick to these rules and guidelines and I can reap the rewards’, and I am seeing it now.

“There are times where – even this season, it was December – I was on 20 goals and I was not satisfied. I haven’t scored since then and I think that is part of the pressure I have been putting on myself.

“At the same time, a lot of people have been saying: ‘he has been having an alright season’ but if you look at my output, I am pretty much close to bettering my record from last season and last season, I had a fantastic season.

“I would say probably I’m about 15 goals off where I want to be. Those are the targets – to try and create good numbers but at the same time, not just have numbers to have numbers.

“At the end of the day, you want to have trophies to back up that season because you can score a lot of goals but 10 years from now, if I can’t look back on those goals as being important for my team and having a great value, then those goals were pointless.

“I am not a player that says I want to be a captain or anything like that but I try to lead on the pitch and do my best to make sure my team comes out on the winning side. It is a role I am really up for.

“It is one of those where I will try to push myself and even when the pressure gets a bit too much, we keep going and keep striving.”

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