England star Raheem Sterling has always been someone who “could cope with anything that you put in front of him”, his former youth coach has said.
Sterling’s goal in England’s 2-0 victory over Germany in the Euro 2020 tournament was “just superb for the country”, according to Steve Gallen who was head of youth development at Queens Park Rangers in west London where he first coached him at the age of 11.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Obviously when Raheem scored the first goal, of course I was proud but it was just superb for the country.”
It was clear that Sterling was a special player in his youth, according to Gallen.
He told the programme: “Of course we saw he was a good player but he was very small.
“He was getting kicked a little bit by some of the bigger, older kids from the other teams but he scored goals.
“You could see that at that age group, he was a special player.
“You could not tell, of course, that he was going to go on and play for England but you could see he was very good in his age group so I kept pushing him along.”
Gallen said of the Manchester City forward that “nothing fazes him, to be honest”.
Gallen recalled that, when he was QPR caretaker manager, he brought a 14-year-old Sterling on as a substitute in a reserve team game against Aldershot.
It meant the teenager was playing against grown adults who were around 25 years old but it was clear that Sterling was special for his age.
Gallen told the programme: “He was so small but he could cope and he could cope with anything that you put in front of him.”
He added that “it just shows what a good player he is and that he can cope with all the big occasions”.
Gallen said that Sterling, 26, who went to school near Wembley Stadium, is now an inspiration to a generation of young people.
Sterling and Tottenham striker Harry Kane each scored within 11 minutes following a tense first half of Tuesday’s match to secure a memorable victory over Germany in the last-16 tie at Wembley.
England are now set to play Ukraine in a quarter-final showdown in Rome on Saturday.