TThe anatomy of the goal that changed everything for England, sparking the historic Euro 2020 victory over Germany on Tuesday and a massive plot loss in the stands at Wembley, showcased all of Raheem’s best qualities Sterling.
There was the breakup of Thomas Müller and between Antonio Rüdiger and Toni Kroos, the ability to feel the seam of space and explode there, then pass it to Harry Kane. He continued his run and, when Kane went left for Jack Grealish, Sterling lunged for the deep ball. It was not on. Then came the best.
Sterling was offside but he slammed on the breaks, drifting back and in as Grealish played in Luke Shaw’s overlap. Sterling could see through the line. On the side. Then he left.
In many ways, it’s a metaphor for Sterling’s career. A move collapses, a door closes on him, a setback arises – often minor, sometimes major – and he leaves. Sterling’s ruthless spirit, refusal to be intimidated, lit his path to the point where he became England’s most important player at the European Championship. When Shaw crossed over and left, the tap-in was his third goal of the tournament.
Each has been broadly similar, with Sterling making crosses between the posts – first against Croatia in the 1-0 win, then the Czech Republic in another 1-0 win, now against Germany for a lead. from 1-0; England won 2-0 after Kane’s second goal to stage a quarter-final with Ukraine in Rome on Saturday.
Sterling’s journey at the senior international level has resulted in a prolonged drop in scores – two goals in his first 45 appearances – and so many critical fan questions, so much social media abuse.
After the 1-1 draw against Russia at Euro 2016, he described himself as “The Hated One” on Instagram and he was perhaps the only player the nation did not take to heart after the team race to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals. finals. Sterling’s performance was disappointing.
Prior to this championship there had been some debate as to whether Gareth Southgate should throw him and Sterling’s irritation was evident when asked in a broadcast interview after the game against Croatia whether his excellent performance justified his inclusion. .
There is the feeling that Sterling is getting some of its fuel from the negativity thrown in its way. “Please keep asking the questions,” Southgate said, nodding to the one after Croatia. “Because if we can’t motivate him, everyone can for sure. “
The idea that Sterling shouldn’t have started was based on his struggles at Manchester City in the final months of the season. From March 10, he lost his starting spot and missed a few big games, but not the biggest – the Champions League final loss to Chelsea.
It didn’t take too much reading between the lines to feel Sterling’s frustration at City, where his pace and confidence fractured; the club will listen to offers for him this summer.
But Southgate trusts Sterling because of what he’s been up to in the England shirt, especially since October 2018, when he scored twice in the 3-2 Nations League win over England. Spain in Seville. It ended his personal drought, in a spectacular way. He has scored 15 goals in his last 20 appearances for England.
“Raheem was probably just one of the players to come back from the World Cup with a different feeling and I’ve talked to him at length about that,” Southgate said. “I think Sevilla was really a take-off moment for him. He had scored for his club but hadn’t been able to translate it. Now I think he feels good in our environment, that he can be himself, that he knows the respect we have for him. He has been a huge threat to all opponents in this tournament.
Sterling’s backstory adds a romantic note to her lead role; He grew up 500 meters from Wembley, he witnessed the reconstruction of the stadium and he dreamed of scoring a day for England there in a major final. But it was the sharpness of his mentality that was the dominant theme, the ability to impose oneself on occasion.
When England were passed in the opening 10 minutes against Germany, as a white-hot atmosphere seemed to cloud them, it was Sterling who helped lead the response, with his speed and movement being a source of comfort. And when the team needed someone to make a difference, he stepped up.
“Raheem is a fighter,” Southgate said. “He has incredible resilience and hunger. He has developed this real thirst to score over the past two years. He finds himself in these areas and his driving is fantastic. We know the course he has done with England and I am so happy that he can deliver the performances he has. Delivering them to Wembley will have been really special for him. His goals are coming back [since Seville] is absolutely amazing.
Sterling flirted with disaster after his goal against Germany, misleading a pass in the 81st minute that saw Kai Havertz pass Müller clear. Sterling had his hands on his head because Müller had to equalize and who knows how things would have turned out if he had found the bottom corner instead of hanging out wide?
Sterling fell to the ground in relief. His luck was there, though he might have done it himself.