Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling has revealed the moment he knew that a move to Merseyside was the right decision for his career, despite the fact he had trials at Arsenal and Chelsea lined up after his first trip to Anfield.
The former Queens Park Rangers youngster recalls how a visit to the Reds training ground and stadium as a starstruck 15-year-old convinced him to commit his future to the club.
Sterling was courted by a host of top Premier League clubs following a number of eye-catching performances in the QPR youth team, but he insists that Liverpool was the only place for him after being bowled over by the facilities that were presented.
"The first time I saw Stevie [Gerrard] I thought he was a fake! I couldn't believe he was real and not a waxwork.
"By the time I was 14, I had trials lined up at Arsenal, Chelsea and Fulham, but my Liverpool trial at Anfield came first, and when I saw the stadium and the training ground, I thought: 'Right, I'm not leaving here until I've signed'."
That revelation will be met with frustration from Gunners and Blues supporters after missing out on an opportunity to see one of this country's brightest young talents turn out at the Emirates or Stamford Bridge.
Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho will certainly be disappointed that Sterling had seemingly already made his decision, even before visiting their respective clubs five years ago.
Liverpool fans will just be hoping that Sterling can rediscover that feeling after reportedly stalling on a new £100,000-a-week contract offer at Anfield, which has prompted intense speculation about his long-term future with Brendan Rodgers's side.
The England international's current stand-off has attracted admiring glances from a host of top European clubs, but the 20-year-old is adamant that a decision will be taken in the summer after stating his desire to delay talks until the end of the season.
Sterling's main focus between now and May 16 is on helping Liverpool get back into the Champions League places, and he made a goalscoring contribution in Monday night's 2-0 victory over Newcastle United with a well-taken individual effort to break the deadlock early in the first-half.
Joe Allen secured the three points thanks to a close-range strike in the second half, which closed the gap between Liverpool and Manchester City in fourth spot to four points with six games still to play.
Race for the top four
Sterling's decision might not be determined solely by the Reds' participation in Europe's elite club competition, but it will surely strengthen the club's chances of retaining the fleet-footed forward's services.
Liverpool fans: Do you think Raheem Sterling's contract situation is dependent on qualification for the Champions League? Share your thoughts below...
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