Raheem Sterling’s England Dream Comes True After Growing Up Next Door To Wembley
Manchester City footballer Raheem Sterling has opened up about how he ‘grew up in the shadow of [his] dream’ as Wembley Stadium was built next to his housing estate.
Sterling has been playing a huge part in paving the way for football to come home over the last few weeks, with England having advanced to the final of the European championships and set to take on Italy at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, July 11.
The idea of winning the Euros for what would be the first time in the team’s history is among many fans’ wildest dreams, and while the players are no doubt right there with them, Sterling has previously opened up about how one of his greatest dreams was just being able to set foot on Wembley’s pitch in the first place.
The footballer moved to London from Jamaica at the age of five, after his father was murdered. In a piece written for The Players’ Tribune in 2018, Sterling said his life ‘changed’ when he met a mentor in his neighbourhood who encouraged him to join a little Sunday League football team.
Reflecting on how his hobby became a career path, he wrote:
And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed. When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London. Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me.
Despite being in demand by the biggest club in London, Sterling’s mother convinced him to join QPR so he could ‘work [his] way up.’ Without complaint, his sister took him on three buses every single day so he could train, but Sterling soon came to realise he wanted to play at a pitch much closer to home.
He recalled watching the new Wembley stadium get built from his ‘back garden’, remembering how one day he walked outside and ‘saw this massive arch in the sky’. He likened the scene to being inside the stadium itself and became determined to play there.
Sterling was later called up to the England under-16s, and when he was 15 years old he joined the Liverpool team. He recalled being determined to get a contract so his ‘mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore’, and at 17 he got called up for England.
He recalled his first match at Wembley, in a World Cup qualifier against Ukraine, and explained that the most surreal part of the experience was driving through the areas that used to be so familiar to him, housing ‘the green where [he] used to dream that all of this was gonna happen.’
The footballer has been awarded numerous titles over the years, including the PFA Young Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year, and in July 2015 he left Liverpool to join Manchester City, where he has remained since.
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CreditsThe Players' Tribune
The Players' Tribune