How Raheem Sterling became Gareth Southgate’s go-to guy

Raheem Sterling has been England’s player of Euro 2020 so far with three goals in four matches, including the all-important opener in their last-16 win over Germany.

The Manchester City forward has scored 15 times in his last 20 international appearances.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how he has become Gareth Southgate’s most effective player.

Southgate’s unstinting faith

Gareth Southgate congratulates Raheem Sterling
Southgate has been a long-time supporter of Sterling, even in his lean times (Mike Egerton/PA)

While Sterling has endured an uncertain time at club level over the last six to 12 months, being left out of key games, there has been no such issue with the national team. Southgate has been fully invested in Sterling since before the 2018 World Cup and continued to pick him even amid the clamour for him to dropped after 26 matches without a goal. That trust is now bearing fruit.

A clearly-defined role

Sterling has cemented the left-sided position in a front three and knows how to operate effectively from there, having flourished doing it in the early years of Pep Guardiola’s City reign. In subsequent seasons the City boss has asked Sterling to perform different roles and develop his game and, consequently, that has lessened his overall efficacy. For England he has a more specific, less expansive, job to do and that allows him to focus on what he does best, coming in off the left.

Greater sense of personal responsibility

Raheem Sterling takes a knee at Wembley
Sterling’s work on racial equality in sport has seen him grow into a leader on and off the pitch (Mike Egerton/PA)

Sterling, now 26, has grown as a player and person over the last couple of years, with his work on racial equality in sport earning him an MBE and a place as one of the 100 most influential black Britons in 2020 and 2021. Despite his age, he is considered one of the senior members of the squad and provides leadership by example, while at his club he is surrounded by an array of world-class stars. The likes of England team-mates Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford have cited Sterling as a role model within the England camp.