Euro-2021: Sterling, leader of England, at Wembley as at home

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Since the start of Euro-2021, Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling has been supporting his team with a series of good performances. If England were to win their first tournament in 55 years on Sunday against Italy, it will largely owe it to the one who grew up close to Wembley Stadium, where the final will take place.

On his left arm, Raheem Sterling sports a tattoo of a child, soccer ball in hand and number 10 on his back, gazing out at Wembley Stadium, the temple of English football. This child, it is Raheem Sterling himself and this dream, it is on the way to come true with the final against Italy which looms Sunday July 11 for England.

“Playing in this stadium means a lot to me,” he explains of this tattoo. “Anytime I want to think about it, I just have to look at my arm.”

Born in Kingston (Jamaica) in 1994, Sterling joined his mother in England at the age of 7. For several years, he lived 480 meters from the legendary English stadium.

“I grew up with this sight,” Sterling recalls later. “Every day she made me dream of playing in the Premier League and in the national team.”

Since that time, Raheem Sterling has multiplied the good memories in this stadium, lifting seven trophies there with Manchester City. It remains to be won with the selection, while England has been looking for a major trophy since 1966 and the World Cup is played at home.

In this extraordinary tournament where England had the luxury of playing six of their seven home games, Raheem Sterling did justice to his love of Wembley. There he was the author of three goals (against Croatia, the Czech Republic and Germany) and was decisive in the semi-final against Denmark: a pressure from Simon Kjaer who pushed the Dane to to score against his own camp and a penalty caused.

England, who woke up Thursday for the first time in 55 years as a finalist in a major competition, know what they owe the Manchester City player.

“He is the best Englishman by far” in this tournament, ruled without hesitation Jamie Carragher, the former Liverpool, on English television.

Major room at Southgate 11

Foden, Mount, Sancho, Grealish, Rashford … England coach Gareth Southgate has yet at his disposal an attacking arsenal that would make many countries pale. But, at the time of dialing his 11, two men seem irremovable in the mind of the phlegmatic technician of the Three Lions: Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.

While the former needed three and a half games to be decisive, Raheem Sterling proved himself in the first games of the competition, scoring England’s only two goals at this early stage. Then he left the light to the one who could become his sidekick at Manchester City next season, also on the way to becoming the tournament’s top scorer.

“With Harry Kane playing lower, you need players who make calls in the back, who have speed,” said Jamie Carragher, emphasizing the complementarity of the two players.

Coach Gareth Southgate also praised the ability of players on his attacking line to “come between the lines or play one-on-one on the wings” with equal success.

Flanked by Saka, another “native” of Wembley

In the semi-final against Denmark, Raheem Sterling was also well helped by Bukayo Saka’s good game on the right, which allowed England to lean less to the left than usual. At 19 years and 305 days old, he became the youngest England international to take part in a final four game of a major competition, as the place on the right seemed promised to Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford or Jadon Sancho after their blazing season. in their respective club.

But by his volume of play, his versatility – he can play in almost any position in the middle and both in attack and defense on the wings – the Arsenal player has proven to be the perfect counterpart to Sterling. A nod to history, he grew up in the shadow of Wembley, like his elder brother, in the London constituency of Ealing, next to that of Brent where the stadium is located.

“If he manages to attract (the Italian central defenders) out of their position – we saw how Spain scored by forcing (Giorgio) Chiellini to leave – he will be the key” to this match, has even already predicted English legend Gary Neville.

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