A magnificent five goal haul in the FA Youth against Southend United has propelled the latest Anfield prodigy fully into the footballing limelight – and into the first team squad for last night’s Europa League clash with Sparta Prague. All part of the learning curve.
Raheem Sterling who was launched into stratosphere after his solo show is not new on the scene. Born in Jamaica, the precocious teenager is indeed attracting favourable comparisons with another Liverpool legend.
The 16-year-old has been on the talent hotlist for a number of years and my pick of his Southend demolition job is the second goal. Under the guidance of Steve Gallen and Mark Burcham and the coaching team at QPR, Sterling was considered good enough to display an array of football tricks on the Soccer AM Skill Skool.
Sterling has a knack of cutting in from the flanks before unleashing an amazing run or goal. What impressed during his spellbinding, yet mature performance was how he effortlessly switched from the left to the right flank for the second half.
A two footed winger with thunderous pace, power and goals is indeed a rare diamond and the coaching staff will be looking to develop and fine tune this aspect of his armoury even further.
Sterling’s goal feast at Anfield was watched by the management trio of Dalglish, Clarke and Lee. It seems it was enough to convince the club management to include the St Helen’s schoolboy to join the Liverpool Europa League squad that travelled to Prague.
During the pre match press conference Dalglish was reported as saying: "We don't have to manage the expectations of anyone apart from yourselves - you are the ones who are blowing things out of proportion.
"Raheem can handle it, we can handle him, but everyone just needs a little bit of help. He might have got the praise but there were a lot of other people who deserved it too (Monday’s youth cup win). Flanno and Jack Robbo have already been in Europa League squads. You've got to be very, very responsible when you're talking about Raheem.
“It's fantastic for him to be involved as it is for the three other lads. Obviously Tom Ince has been involved before but for the four lads from the youth team it's a fantastic occasion.
“We want to make sure they feel part and parcel of the football club. They are here because they deserve to be here and maybe because of the injuries we've got at the moment it dictates that they are here.
“They've done very well but none of them will be carried away with the result the other night in the Youth Cup.”
King Kenny also had a wisecrack for the press boys: "We'll just be sensible with the kids. I saw some of the stories in the papers about young Raheem. We've got a babysitter organised for him tonight at the hotel and he's doing his homework before he goes to sleep!”
Under the tutelage of Dalglish and the scrutiny of Steve Clarke, young Raheem’s footballing future could not be in better hands. Dalglish likes to give youth a chance, Martin Kelly and Danny Wilson are two recent cases in point and as sure as night follows day, Raheem’s time will come.
Sterling possesses the hallmarks to become an Anfield great and the thought of the young starlet playing to the Kop is a mouth watering one for Liverpool fans.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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