The level didn't surprise me - Gareth Southgate on Raheem Sterling
Written by: Neil Talnikar
The winger bagged a superb hat-trick against Czech Republic on Friday.
2019 has been an amazing year so far for Raheem Sterling having scored six goals and bagging three assists in the Premier League while also registering a couple of goals in the Champions League. The Englishman picked up an amazing form and perhaps at a very crucial time when Manchester City are vying with Liverpool, his former club, for the domestic league title.
His performances earned him a lot of applauds from the pundits and recently England head coach Gareth Southgate also heaped praise on the forward. During the ongoing international break, the Three Lions played Czech Republic at the Wembley Stadium in the UEFA EURO Qualifiers.
While it was expected to be an easy tie for England, they still managed to surprise everyone by putting on an absolute rout of the Czechs with a scoreline of 5-0. The game saw three debutants for the Three Lions in Jadon Sancho, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Declan Rice while Tottenham Hotspur suffered from an injury blow as Eric Dier limped off in the 17th minute.
However, it was Sterling’s hattrick that stole the show at Wembley as he once again put on a mesmerising display. After the game, Southgate hailed the former Liverpool forward as a ‘role model’ for young players.
“I saw what I've seen all week from him, so the level he hit didn't surprise me. He's in a really confident moment, not only on the field, but off the field he's so mature and comfortable in himself,” said the Englishman.
The 48 year-old continued with his appreciation for Sterling saying his brace against Spain in the UEFA Nations League in October last year was a stepping stone for his recent success. The 24 year-old forward who was given the captain’s armband during latter part of the game opened the scoring for his side by slotting home after a brilliant build-up move by the Three Lions as they completed 25 passes before scoring.
Although Southgate was delighted with Sterling’s performance, he expected more from the team as a whole. “I thought we were a little slow at the start to move the ball, and there was a period at the beginning of the second half where we lost a bit of tactical discipline and conceded chances that on another night would be punished.”
“I'm nit-picking, but I think we can get better and I think we've got to keep doing that because these guys have got the potential to play at an even higher level than they did tonight, I think,” he added.
Published: Sat Mar 23, 2019 03:40 PM IST