Raheem Sterling is one of the world’s best players who doesn’t get the credit he deserves, says former Liverpool and England team-mate Daniel Sturridge.
The Manchester City forward has put a frustrating end to his domestic campaign behind him to become a key component in England’s Euro 2020 charge – so far scoring three goals in the tournament.
And as Gareth Southgate’s side prepares to face Ukraine in a quarter-final encounter in Rome on Saturday, Sturridge is in no doubt his former team-mate will shine once again.
Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News, Sturridge said: “I don’t think it’s spoken about enough at just how brilliant he has been, consistently over the course of the last three or four seasons.
“He’s shown real growth and maturity in how he’s playing the game, working hard while positionally and tactically he’s been brilliant.
“He’s scoring goals as well which is one thing people would not have thought he could do consistently.
“He’s doing everything that is asked of him, on and off the pitch – doing everything that can be asked of a world-class player. I’ve been blown away by how he’s been playing.”
‘England have grown since Euro 2016’
Sturridge was part of the England set-up at Euro 2016, coming off the bench to score the winner against Wales in the second group game before the side were dumped out of the tournament by Iceland at the last-16 stage.
But the 31-year-old believes England are in much better shape than five years ago and is confident they can win their first piece of silverware since 1966.
“We didn’t achieve what we wanted to achieve back then (at Euro 2016) but the squad has shown a lot of growth since then,” Sturridge said.
“Getting to a semi-final of a World Cup was a step in the right direction and they were unfortunate not to make the finals then.
“But you look at the talent we have in the squad and I can’t speak highly enough of the whole side.
“And the way the manager is setting up the team tactically, a few have maybe questioned his decisions, I think he has set the team up right.
“It’s important in competitions like the Euros and World Cup that you set the team up in a framework that is specific for that opposition.
“Hopefully the fans will relax a bit (after the Germany game) to trust the process because everything he (Gareth Southgate) has done so far has worked.
“I have no doubts about what we are going to do and quietly confident we are going to go out there and put our best foot forward.”
No, you didn’t dream it. England have beaten Germany in a knockout game, winning 2-0 at Wembley on an historic night to clear the path through Euro 2020. Alice Piper is joined by Rob Dorsett, Pete Smith and Gerard Brand to discuss the famous victory, including how Gareth Southgate once again proved his critics wrong.
With Ukraine up next, and Denmark or Czech Republic waiting in the semi-final, is the final now a minimum expectation for England? With Southgate’s side favourites, how will they set up? Plus: praise for Sterling, Grealish, Saka, Pickford, Kane and… well, just about everyone.
And in part 3, Oli Yew pops in for a Ukraine scouting report after their last-gasp extra-time win over Sweden. Should they be feared? All roads lead to Rome for Saturday’s quarter-final tie…