Manchester City supporters are used to seeing some thrilling performances from Raheem Sterling, but the supporters of the national side have constantly been on his back. Not only that, but sterling has endured a torrid, almost despicable amount of abuse from the British media, who have done nothing but slate his performances, booing the youngster and calling for him to be replaced on every possible occasion.
It was less than a year ago when one tabloid newspaper (you know which one) blasted him for his gun tattoo, forcing the winger to explain what it was all about and why. Throughout the World Cup, the media focussed on Sterling’s lack of goals, mentioning on countless occasions when the last goal he scored for his country was, leading to Sterling becoming a national hate figure.
Two goals for England in Spain did little to ease the abuse. In fact, it increased with fans demanding to know why Sterling couldn’t have hit the target more often in Russia, like the winger was single-handedly to blame for England’s exit.
Sterling put the World Cup behind him and continued to put in performance after performance for the blues, while constantly barracked by opposing fans, even those whose clubs had no connections to the winger. Sterling was abused by a section of Chelsea fans in December, leading to the City man to speak out against the media, who portray him so differently to other players, particularly those of a different colour skin to him. There was even some derision as he was selected again for Gareth Southgate’s England squad for their Euro 2020 qualifiers, as if he didn’t deserve his spot in the quad, never mind the starting eleven.
But the critics that wanted him left out where soon left eating their own words.
Sterling stretched to scored England’s first goal on 24 minutes, then was bundled over in the box deep into first half injury time. Normally, those supporters in the stands and the armchair ones at home would be screaming that Sterling dived, despite it being a clear and obvious penalty. This time, they were appealing for it and it was given. Harry Kane stepped up and made it 2-0.
The second half belonged to Sterling. The winger scored a great second goal on 62 minutes and completed his hat-trick just six minutes later with the help of a deflection, before being substituted two minutes later to a standing ovation from the Wembley crowd.
And it wasn’t just the fans that were left drooling over the winger’s performance; the media have completely changed their tune of Sterling and are now singing his praises, with one in particular saying “Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick shows why he is England’s most complete attacking force... and he has the potential to become one of the best this country has ever produced.” It was less than a year ago they were slagging him off!
There will, of course be those who will still get on Sterling’s back and those that still hate, but the winger has shown already he has the mental strength to cope with anything opposing fans can throw at him.
After all, he’s endured it since he moved to City.