Following his dazzling performances for Liverpool over the last year Raheem Sterling, undoubtedly the shining light of English football, recently found himself in the middle of national scrutiny.
Sterling stated that he was unable to start in the recent qualifier against Estonia due to fatigue, but was he in the wrong to tell his manager he wasn't fit to play?
It is clear Sterling is facing an unparalleled level of pressure, which has led to the premature decline of many English prospects of our time. At the age of 19 years old, Sterling has already played an astonishing 80 professional league matches. He made 33 appearances last campaign and has already made seven starts including one substitute appearance so far this season.
So, what do these figures mean in the context of fatigue and its affects? Well, one prime example of a player who has suffered the negatives of a high volume of games too soon is Michael Owen.
As a young electrifying forward, terrorising defenders at Anfield, Owen was also carrying the weight of a nation on his shoulders.
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Owen had started 68 professional top-flight matches in comparison to Sterling's 80 at the same age! Addressing this fascinating statistic, it is clear to see why Sterling would feel the need for a break following so many games.
Owen crucially suffered a horrific tear of his hamstring in the season of 1998-99, at the age of 19,which he felt triggered a series of injuries leading to an unfortunate decline in form later in his career.
Cause of decline
What was at fault for Owen’s decline? Simple, as he stated in an interview with ESPN in 2012 prior to his retirement, "I have become injury prone due to overplaying at a young age."
So with this in mind Sterling's request to have a break due to fatigue is surely a sensible decision? False, as a wave of the nation lurched onto Sterling, questioning his patriotism.
Should we not be using the over reliance of young prospects, such as Owen as an example, to ensure we correctly nurture the young talents of our future? Or shall we forever be doomed with the over reliance and lack of compassion to these young boys who carry the nation their backs.
It is a sad reality that an immensely gifted youngster showing honesty is being demonised by the public however, it is us and only us who can remove these pressures to ensure we do not ruin yet another prodigious talent.
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