18 Jun 2014

Raheem Sterling, England’s new wunderkind

As 19-year-old Raheem Sterling prepares to take to the field in England’s ‘”do or die” World Cup clash against Uruguay, here are the key facts you should know about him.

1) Family

Raheem Sterling was born in Jamaica and moved to London with his mother and older sister when he was five.

He grew up within sight of Wembley stadium, which features in a tattoo on his arm. His father was shot dead in Jamaica when Raheem was nine.

2) Club football

He joined QPR as a nine-year-old schoolboy before moving to Liverpool at 15.

He made his debut for the senior team at 17. Despite showing promise, his star waned – until the 2013-14 season, when the forward played a pivotal role in Liverpool’s second place finish in the Premier League.

3) Comparisons

Sterling has been compared to Paul Gascoigne (Gazza), who made his name at the 1990 World Cup finals, and Wayne Rooney, who shone at Euro 2004.

4) England friendlies

Despite a good discliplinary record at Liverpool, he was sent off in the pre-World Cup friendly against Ecuador.

This meant he was barred from the final warm-up match against Honduras.

5) World Cup opener

Sterling was restored to the starting line-up against Italy, a move applauded by many England football bans, who commended manager Roy Hodgson’s boldness in choosing youthful promise over experience.

World Cup: could England's Sterling be the man for Manaus?

Hodgson’s decision was vindicated. He was the team’s best player against the Azzurri, providing the pass that allowed Wayne Rooney to cross the ball into Daniel Sturridge’s path for England’s goal.

Despite a promising display by England and Sterling, the Three Lions were beaten 2-1.

6) Uruguay

It would be astonishing if Sterling fails to start for England on Thursday. The debate now is over where he plays.

Should he occupy the No 10 position, in the middle of the pitch just behind striker and Liverpool teammate Sturridge, where he performed so impressively against Italy?

Or should he be shifted to the left or right so Rooney can move into this slot and hopefully score?

Whatever Hodgson decides, the most intriguing prospect on Thursday is the possible return of Luis Suarez from injury.

Several members of the England team are used to playing with Suarez as teammates at Liverpool, but not against him when he is on international duty.

Let battle commence.