Manchester City star Raheem Sterling has insisted that he is not phased by criticism and that he thrives off proving his doubters wrong, with the England international enjoying a fine start to the season.
Sterling has often been the subject of widespread criticism for a lack of end product and efficiency in his game, having risen to prominence at a young age in his career. However, the forward is now thriving at the Etihad Stadium under Pep Guardiola’s guidance.
Raheem Sterling – PL scoring record v Bournemouth, all for @ManCity— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) December 1, 2018
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He is the 1st player in PL history to score in his first 6 appearances against an opponent pic.twitter.com/rbfr5RgMgW
The 23-year-old has been keen to brush aside the critics, with the considerable degree of public attention not phasing the English winger’s development on the pitch, or his personal happiness. Sterling told the Sunday Times: “Honestly, I’m not even bantering, I don’t try to think about that side anymore, negative or positive.
“I am more trying to be the best I can be, be happy, with myself and my family. A lot of young kids reach out to me, saying, ‘You’re an inspiration.’ They always tell me to keep positive and don’t look at what negatives are being said about me, and it’s good.
“I try to give them positives and show them no matter what someone says, what someone believes, to keep trying. I was told I wasn’t good enough to play for City, that I was a waste of money.
No player has more Premier League goals this season than Raheem Sterling.— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) December 1, 2018
No player has more Premier League assists this season than Raheem Sterling.
No player has had more touches in the penalty area in the Premier League this season than Raheem Sterling.
“Before I came to City I was meant to be one of the best young players in the world; two months there and I was the worst thing going.
“What happened there? The media perception changes – ‘He can’t do this, he can’t do that.’ I just tried to build myself up and be confident in myself and try to prove people wrong. That’s a big part of me, trying to prove people wrong. I thrive off that.
“If someone says I can’t, I say, ‘I can.’ I keep trying to do better.”
Sterling’s development into one of the Premier League’s most consistent attacking stars with City has largely been credited to the imperious coaching influence of Guardiola, but Sterling has admitted that he also takes strength from his religion.
“Every time before I leave my hotel room before a match I say a prayer, just to give thanks,” Sterling added. “I read the Bible. My favourite saying from the Bible is one I’ve taken with me from a young age: ‘Who God blessed, no man cursed.’
“I feel I am God’s blessed and no matter what any man says or does, it can’t harm me. I haven’t been the best Christian over the past two, three years but I am quite religious.
“Hopefully one day I can give my life to the Lord and say, ‘Thank you.’ That’s something massive to me, baptising and living in his word.”
Sterling’s faith in himself has certainly paid dividends this season, with the forward having scored eight goals in his 12 Premier League appearances this term.
The England winger continues to be one of the shining stars at the Etihad as City push to retain their Premier League title this season, most recently firing his side into the lead during Saturday’s 3-1 win at home to Bournemouth.