‘Raheem Sterling is England’s golden boy – Let’s put some respect on his name’

Let’s start showing Raheem Sterling some love.

Let’s start showing ­ Manchester City ’s finest the credit he so richly ­deserves.

I remember in 2016 when some England fans started a GoFundMe page to send him home from the ­European ­Championship.

I ­remember when people called him greedy and ­disloyal for wanting to leave Liverpool to win trophies at City.

Even during this ­tournament, for all the ­impressive things that Raheem has done, I’ve seen and heard people adamant that they’d rather have Jack Grealish or Phil Foden in the side.

It really is time to put some respect on Sterling’s name. The guy has scored three goals in four games.

Let’s start showing Raheem Sterling some love

It’s time to ­appreciate what he has done to make himself the difference in the tight games that have got us this deep into the ­tournament.

For all the ­excitement and ­euphoria at Wembley and around the ­country this week, for all the optimism going into Saturday’s quarter-final against Ukraine and for all the ­excitement around what ­represents our best chance at a major ­tournament for some time, let’s not forget the sizeable contribution of Sterling.

He’s been through so much off the pitch with people ­judging him, ripping him, ­refusing to give him the credit he deserves and so much more.

Let’s not kid ourselves, for all the people raising the roof around the country, so many didn’t even want Raheem in the team for the first game.

That was after he’d scored 16 goals for club and country over the past season.

He has set some incredible standards for himself if people don’t want him in the England team after that.

I have to tell you, not many people are able to cope with the stick he has had.

I’ve had my critics as a player but nothing like what Raheem has had to deal with. But he has shown us just how ­mentally strong he is, just how big a player he is.

Maybe it’s playing at ­Wembley, pretty much in his backyard. Maybe it’s the ­confidence he has had from scoring that winner in the opening game against Croatia. Maybe it’s the belief that he has in himself.

I certainly think he is ­undroppable and here’s why: For me, Gareth Southgate went into the ­tournament with the belief that Raheem would start the Croatia game.

Had he not scored then ­perhaps we could have seen Grealish come in.

Has Raheem Sterling been England’s player of the tournament? Comment below

But because Raheem did score he had to keep his place and in every game, even if he hasn’t scored, he has looked the biggest threat.

I did a radio show in Brent in north west London where I spoke to a lot of the young guys who live in the local area.

They all couldn’t say enough about just how much of an ­inspiration for guys like them.

Without men such as Raheem, moving into the professional game is just a pipedream. He – and the way that he deals with adversity – is an inspiration for all of those kids who are watching this European Championship run and thinking one day it could be them.

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