Eight reasons to celebrate Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling’s 20th birthday
Raheem Sterling turned 20 on 8 December, and here are eight resons to celebrate the Liverpool forward's special day
1. Liverpool debut
Most Liverpool supporters had heard about Raheem Sterling before the winger made his Reds debut in March 2012. Sterling, aged 17 years and 107 days, was a second-half substitute as Liverpool lost 2-1 to Wigan Athletic. The Jamaica-born youngster became the second-youngest player to represent Liverpool behind one of the club’s greatest-ever youth products, Michael Owen.
2. First Liverpool goal
It is no secret that Brendan Rodgers made a slow start to his Liverpool reign. Sterling, though, helped buy the manager time with his youthful promise and vigour. After a bright start to the 2012-13 campaign, Sterling scored his first Liverpool goal in October 2012. The Reds forward netted a 29th-minute winner to seal a 1-0 win against Reading. He has gone on to score a further 13 Premier League goals.
3. England debut
While some detractors will argue that Roy Hodgson handed Sterling his debut as a tactical move to tie him down to England rather than on merit. Regardless, the Liverpool man was able to make the step up to international level just seven months after he made his Reds bow. Unfortunately for Sterling, the trend of losing debuts continued as Sweden were 4-2 winners in Stockholm.
4. Gunning down Canaries
Sterling was one of the key players in Liverpool’s title run-in as the forward hit top form in March. His most influential performance in the final months of the 2013-14 campaign came at Norwich City, scoring two strikes and making an assist to secure a 3-2 win. Both goals were spectacular.
5. His goal against Man City
Sterling has drawn comparison to Liverpool legend John Barnes, partly due to his Jamaican heritage, but also because of his abundance of flair. The 20-year-old triggered scenes of bedlam at Anfield when he broke the deadlock in their crunch title clash with Manchester City. Sterling deceived Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart with an elegant shake of the hips before he placed his finish into the vacated net. It was a sublime effort.
6. World Cup bow
Sterling, as with so many other challenges that he has faced in his career, took the prospect of a World Cup debut in his stride. The Liverpool forward was England’s standout performer in a 2-1 defeat by Italy in their group opener. Sterling had half of England on their feet when his ambitious long-range strike appeared to have beaten Gianluigi Buffon. Unfortunately, it was side netting. However, Sterling did enough to impress Italy legend Andrea Pirlo, who said: “”Raheem Sterling was the only English player to cause me problems, very talented.” Arguably, better than a goal!
7. ‘Steady, Raheem’
Sterling provided Liverpool supporters with one of the highlights of fly-on-the-wall documentary, Being Liverpool. Rodgers was just a couple of months into his Anfield reign when he was confronted with a dash of petulance from his teenage protege. It led to the Liverpool manager delivering one of the lines of the four-part show, “If you say steady to me again when I say something to you, you’ll be on the first place back”. Great TV!
8. Loving father
Sterling has been the source of much debate on Twitter since breaking into the Liverpool side. He is father to one child, Melody Rose, after a brief relationship. However, the Reds forward was speculated to have more children on social media. Showing his sense of humour, Sterling joked that he had eight kids earlier this season.
All my 8 kids in one pic.. oh god do I love them all pic.twitter.com/amFvwmDDgF
— Raheem Sterling (@sterling31) August 6, 2014