FOOTIE idol Raheem Sterling has revealed key advice he allegedly gave to himself as a teenager: “Get out of social media.”
The Manchester City star has spoken of how he was hurt reading a barrage of online abuse when he started playing for England at 19.
He spoke on the guest edition of Radio 4’s Today show, where he chatted with England boss Gareth Southgate, his mother Nadine and broadcaster Amol Rajan.
Asked by Southgate what he would say to himself at age 19, he replied: ‘Get out of social media, don’t read anything about yourself. “
He continued, “When I first joined the team, I was the man of the matches.
“Everything was nice. I was playing for England and I was really excited about it.
Snapping his fingers just once, he added, “And then one thing happens and it’s constantly bad, bad, negative, negative.
“When you put this information into your brain, you only have one way to react.
“You are going to feel bad about yourself. You will start to think too much. The one thing you don’t want to do as a human being, not just as a footballer, is overthinking.
“I would say, avoid looking at anything as far as myself is concerned.”
Sterling, a hero of the Three Lions team that reached the Euro 2020 final, also spoke about the fight against racism and claimed that racist incidents were quickly forgotten.
He said: “I think most of the time when racism arises and something has happened, often in football, and in the majority as a society, we tend to fix it during that time, these five days or this week, and then you know we normally strain it under the rug.
He also recounted his journey after playing football on the streets of Brent in North West London.
He endured “difficult times” at the start of the game.
And he said, “The only thing I always say, if somebody asks to be professional, is that nobody tells you how it’s going to go, nobody gives you the formula.
“A lot of times you have to face scenarios that you’ve never faced before. “
Sterling, 27, said he struggled at 18 and 19 to figure out how to deal with the different pressures.
He said on the show, “Once you mature and understand how to deal with these things because you’ve now been through them, you build that mental resilience.”
The winger has scored three goals in the Euro final and is part of the UEFA tournament squad.
But he felt personal praise didn’t mean much after England lost to Italy in the final hurdle.
The one thing you don’t want to do as a human being, not just as a footballer, is overthinking.
He said: “Over the past two years with Gareth you can see the milestones we’ve come through as a team on and off the pitch.
“After the tournament, everyone congratulated me and I was like, ‘Congratulate me for what?
“They were like, ‘No you had a great tournament.’ I was like, ‘That’s not what the team decided to do.’ It was really disappointing.
Sterling also credited Southgate for uniting the Three Lions team since taking over as manager five years ago.
England had one of their darkest days in major football tournaments when they were knocked out of Euro 2016 by Iceland, ranked 34th in the world and with a population of just 330,000.
England have since finished fourth in the 2018 World Cup – their first semi-final appearance at the tournament in 28 years – and the Euro 2020 final this year.
The exciting young team from Southgate will travel to Qatar next year among the favorites to win the 2022 World Cup.
Sterling said: “After the Euros in France, the team came out with a very bad press.
“It was a very difficult time for the next two years. The conviction was not there within the team.
“When Gareth arrived he really tried to make us understand that yes, that’s the scar – but how are we going to change it?”
“The team has grown as one. We want to do things collectively. The only thing about this team is that when you walk into the building, we are so integrated.
Southgate said the team’s decision to kneel before games to highlight racial injustice was another factor that helped bring the Three Lions together ahead of Euro 2020.
Often times you have to face scenarios that you have never encountered before.
He said: “The guys didn’t realize how powerful it would be, before the tournament, and they wanted to be judged on football.
“I wanted to represent the players in the best possible way. “
Southgate also opened up about the racial abuse directed at Sterling and his teammates Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi by fans in Montenegro in March 2019.
He said it turned out to be a pivotal moment for the England team.
He explained: “A lot of things happened including George Floyd who educated me.
“[By taking knee] we could send a message.
In addition to becoming an English hero, Sterling won three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and four League Cups at City.
He said he owed this success to a series of mentors in his life, including Southgate.
The player now hopes to offer similar support to young people through his charitable foundation.
In November, he unveiled the Raheem Sterling Foundation at his old school, the Ark Elvin Academy, in Wembley.
He aims to improve the social mobility of young people in London, Manchester and Kingston, Jamaica, where he was born.
Sterling said he felt a “personal connection” to his foundation’s work and said the goal was to instill in children the belief to continue pursuing their dreams.
The star stressed that underprivileged children must believe they can overcome what he says is an invisible barrier.
Get out of social media, don’t read anything about yourself.
He said: “If you’ve grown up in a certain field, you feel like there are certain limits that you can’t reach.
“I think that was my whole dream or my goal when I created the foundation. . . trying to make people, young people, understand that there is this barrier that you can break down.
Sterling lived in a three-bed bungalow with ten members of his extended family in Jamaica.
He was only two years old when his father Phillip was gunned down by gangsters.
When her mother moved her family to the UK they lived in the harsh estate of St Raphael in Neasden.
The little boy helped his mother clean hotel rooms as she tried to make ends meet.
Sterling recalled how he and his older sister Lakima accompanied him on the first shifts and argued over who cleaned the toilet.
As a reward, Nadine, a trained nurse who now runs a nursing home, would allow them to choose their breakfast from the vending machine using the change she found on the job.
Sterling began his career with the local club of Queens Park Rangers.
In their academy, he was spotted by London teams Arsenal, Chelsea and Fulham as well as Liverpool and Manchester City.
Nadine encouraged him not to choose clubs in the capital to make sure he escapes London’s gang culture.
He was signed by Liverpool in 2010 and played 95 times before moving to City five years later.
He has since played 211 times for them and scored 85 goals.
He played for England at the Under-16, 17, 19 and 21 levels and has now scored 18 goals in 72 senior appearances.
Nadine said her son’s success was a “dream come true”.
She added: “Looking at all he has accomplished, as a mom, I can tell I’m really proud and really happy.”
Sterling added that his young self would be “gassed – very happy” with the success he has now achieved.
And he said it was important for him to stay “in touch” with this little boy who was always “on the hunt for something.”
“Lions can take the heat to lift the Cup in Qatar”
RAHEEM Sterling believes England can win the World Cup in Qatar next year.
The 27-year-old, who has scored three times at Euro 2020, told BBC Radio 4 that the Three Lions would love nothing more.
He said: “You can see the steps we have taken on and off the pitch.
“Yes, the Euro was a great adventure but we were really disappointed.
“We want to get our hands on a trophy.
“There is nothing more important to me – and the guys will agree – there is nothing bigger than winning a major tournament for England.
“I don’t think you can beat that for us as players.
“I think we have players of the right ages, who are fighting for the right things and who have the mentality to be the best at their position.
“We have a great manager here who tries to give us the environment to perform at the highest level. “
The Manchester City ace added insolently: “I hope with this speech I get a seat on the plane.”
The tournament’s controversial debut in the Middle East means matches will have to be played in winter to avoid scorching heat.