Football

Raheem Sterling is not a team player

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Raheem Sterling, now of Manchester City, is a 20 year-old international footballer with bags of potential.

Though he has been in the limelight for three years and has achieved far more than most have by his age in the Premier League, all his memorable achievements are still to be decided - and those memorable achievements won't be memorable without the efforts of the ten men he has alongside him.

Nobody will be remembered for being a decent player on a team's close-but-unsuccessful surge for the Premier League title; or even being a very promising component of your country's disappointing World Cup effort the summer after.

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£49 million is a memorable price tag; indicative of the cost of potential in today's hyper-inflated market, but ultimately means nothing.

And that's what Sterling has done: nothing but merely polished the surface of an industry that players such as Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs and Frank Lampard have spent years carving their legacies into.

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And even so, none of these would've been able to do it without ten other players gracing the field with them into battle.

There are no shortcuts in football, in anything, in life. Of course money can help you assemble a star-studded team ready to take on the best but Manchester City themselves know that doesn't happen overnight as they are yet to get past the second round of the Champions League, despite their infinite riches.

A figurehead

At Liverpool, coming into the 2015-16 campaign, Sterling was to be a figurehead of their squad and deservedly so. It's what his performances and loyalty to the team had warranted.

With the onus on him to perform and provide for a young and talented team and an ethos at Liverpool to bleed young talent, it was all in place for 'RS7' to show the world what he can do; to push on with his development as a professional footballer and to help repay a team that taught him so much.

Instead, he will join a team of individuals; a team which has failed more than it has succeeded, a team careless of the true meaning of sport and one which will undoubtedly crumble once the money dries up and the owners get bored.

A case in study

The other player in question is Wilson Chandler; someone who sees sport slightly differently to young Sterling.

At 27, the NBA forward is in a more advanced stage of his sporting life; though still could play for up to a decade in the sport. After a successful college career, followed by four steady years with the New York Knicks, the 23rd pick out of DePaul found home in Denver in 2011.

Wilson has had a mixture of experiences with the Nuggets from lengthy times out with recurring injuries to helping the team claim the fifth seed in the West in the 2011 season, arguably comparable to Liverpool's season in 2013, given their respective stature.

This has been the on-court high of a rollercoaster five years for the Nuggets; a team who like Liverpool are reliant on the fulfilment of potential from their youngsters such as Gary Harris and Emmanuel Mudiay, as well as the performances of their more experienced, yet trophy-free, players like Danilo Gallinari, Jameer Nelson, JJ Hickson and Wilson himself.

In his committal to a further four years in Denver, Chandler stated what it was that mattered to him. It wasn't the individual success. It wasn't the money. It was the city, it was the fans, it was the project, it was the team, it was the potential.

Wilson has experienced relative success with the Nuggets; just as Sterling did with Liverpool. In reality, it's unlikely that the Nuggets will win a championship but the joy comes in the challenge and the journey.

It must be noted that Wilson could have waited another year before committing and reaped the benefits of a far more lucrative contract due to the rise in the salary cap thanks to a new TV deal but his love for the city of Denver, the fans and the journey they have ahead of them was too exciting for him to ignore. These things were all in place for Sterling. When did this change in sport?

Now, I'm not one to stop anyone from being happy or to say anyone has made the wrong decision. However, this kind of act from professional sportsmen is becoming more commonplace and it marks a change from what I thought I knew about sport: the act of an individual wanting to be remembered before the teams they were on.

When did this become a part of team sport? To my memory, this doesn't happen. Even Leo Messi will be remembered for being a part of an incredible Barcelona team. Even Jordan had Pippen and Rodman.

It will be their Champions League medals and Championship rings which they will cherish more than their goal and scoring records. The Golden State Warriors 2015 Championship win will be remembered before Steph Curry's superhuman season.


Don't say we didn't warn you, Raheem, but you had it all where you were.

Topics:
Football
Manchester City
Liverpool
Raheem Sterling
Premier League

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