Sterling sets his story straight

Raheem Sterling clears the air on some of the controversies that have been part of his career in this interview with The Guardian.

Raheem Sterling moved to Manchester City for a fee believed to be worth £49 million.   -  REUTERS

Still just 20 years old, Raheem Sterling has come a long way. From an angry young boy playing on the streets outside Wembley stadium to the most expensive English football player till date. In this interview with The Guardian, his first since moving to Manchester City, Sterling spills the beans on the tired-gate saga, his much talked about transfer from Liverpool and his new team.

As England take on Estonia this Friday, Sterling has wanted to make the point for some time, to clear up that, contrary to popular opinion, he never claimed to be too tired to play in the corresponding fixture in Tallinn a year ago.

“The manager asked me a question and, being the person I am, I answered honestly”, he said. “He asked me how I was feeling and I said I was OK but ‘my legs do feel a bit tired’. I never once said: ‘I don’t want to play’ or anything like that.”

His departure from Liverpool, a proud and emotional club, was never going to be easy, upsetting many supporters, but behind the scenes the reality is that he left on reasonable terms. Sterling was a popular member of the dressing room and had a good relationship with Brendan Rodgers.

“Everyone outside the club made it out as being something really bad but there was no problem with the manager or the other players. The manager even invited me over to his house to talk. It wasn’t anything like as bad as people made out.”

The truth is simple: he just wanted to join a club where there was a better chance of silverware. He does, however, reflect it was a mistake to go public in his infamous interview with the BBC, when he wanted to get the message out that he was not a “money-grabbing 20-year-old”.

“I don’t regret doing the interview because it was frustrating hearing some of the stories about me and some of the silly money people said I was supposedly rejecting, when it was nothing like that. I just wanted to get my point across but probably there was a better way I could have done it.”

Sterling is also reacquainting himself with the Champions League and although he speaks well of Liverpool, he clearly feels vindicated by wanting to move along the M62. “The tempo, the passing, the two-touch movement in training; it’s really surprised me,” he says of his first few months in Manchester. “It’s really sharp, really good to be involved in. There are more experienced players here. Obviously, Liverpool had many great players as well but the players here have been at the highest level for many years and you can definitely see that on the training pitch.”