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Confident Sterling Picks England

Having recently signed a long-term deal with Liverpool, Raheem Sterling has now confirmed his international future lies with England. He also appears a far more grounded individual than many would paint him as.

Scott Heavey

Despite rumours some in his family favoured Jamaica, it never seemed seriously in doubt that Raheem Sterling would in the end choose England for his senior international career. And now, a week after securing his Liverpool future by signing a five-year deal, he has made his international intentions official: His future lies with England.

"Obviously I've got Jamaican roots," said Sterling. "I was born there and my mum and family are from there but no one tried to put any pressure on me, which was the good thing. I couldn't turn my back on England because I've grown up through the English youth system and progressed from there, so I couldn't just switch over.

"It was a good thing for me to be called up and make my debut. That was obviously a dream come true. As a 15-year-old I can remember sitting at home and praying to get an Under-16 call-up, so to be getting a senior call-up a few years later was one of the best things that ever happened to me. So obviously I want to keep driving on and do a bit more. It's 100% going to be England from now on."

It's hardly a surprising choice. After all, Sterling has spent most of his life in England after moving to London at the age of six, and despite their many well publicised failings on the international stage it is a national team that promises World Cup and European Championship competition. It also generally means less travel and playing on higher quality pitches than would have been the case had he surprised everyone by choosing Jamaica.

It also means that with both club and country questions sorted, Sterling's future would appear settled—at least for the next few years.

"It was a relief to sign the contract," he continued, addressing the recent long-term deal that confirmed his Anfield future. "It had gone on for a few weeks so it was good to get it all finalised and done. It was not really about finance for me. I just really wanted to get the contract sorted. When people were asking why I wasn't signing it was at a time when we hadn't even started negotiating."

All told, Sterling's discussion of both his international future and his recent past at Liverpool shows a far more grounded individual than the one some in the media have painted him as in recent months following a much discussed moment on the club's Being: Liverpool series where he was seen to be at odds with manager Brendan Rodgers after talking back to him.

Sterling himself even is fully aware of the negative impact that short bit of footage had on the public's perception of him, saying that following its airing he and Rodgers spoke and that the manager "knows I didn't say what it looked like I did and it was all a bit of a misunderstanding."

He added: "People must have thought I was a little cocky kid, but it was all cleared up. As a young player you need the harsh treatment but mine came really harsh. You need stuff like that, though, to make sure you have the respect for the manager. I'm not cocky. I'd say I've got swagger.

"That's it. Obviously I know what I can do on the pitch so I'm confident on the pitch, but not cocky off it, no. I'm nowhere near where I think I can be, particularly in terms of goalscoring and the attacking side of my game. There's a lot more to come."

For Liverpool to have any chance of working their way back into the top four conversation in the coming years there will likely have to be. Thankfully for all involved, Sterling looks more than capable of delivering on his promise.

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