Brilliant, bright and money-grabbing: Raheem Sterling deserves every penny he can get
Raheem Sterling is not a money-grabber. Well, so says the Times. And ‘money grabber’ is in inverted commas, the words appearing in a headline comment on the Liverpool player’s view of himself as revealed in a BBC interview. In that chat, Sterling confirmed that he has rejected an offer of £100,000-a-week to extend his Liverpool contract, which still has over two years to run.
He also says he’s “flattered” that Arsenal are interested in hiring him.
And he stated:
“Everyone’s dream is growing up seeing themselves in an away kit somewhere in a sunny country.”
You might take that for poetic licence, Sterling’s ‘sunny country’ being North London in February. But the 20-year-old who left QPR to earn more money at Liverpool is a pragmatist. Sterling wants a move away from the Premier League.
And he won’t weep for Liverpool. Following Liverpool’s win at QPR, his boyhood club, Sterling wrote on his Instagram page:
“Back to where it all started great win from the boys 3 points yerrrr boiiii.”
See how he loves Liverpool. Well, they do pay him more than QPR were offering. Liverpool got Sterling in their club colours because they outbid all other teams, offering QPR an initial £500,000 for the teenager.
In The Nowhere Men by Michael Calvin, we learn:
Sterling was a regular in pick-up games organised by Walley on a pitch marked out in the back garden of the home of Tim Sherwood, Tottenham’s technical co-ordinator. A trial game was arranged, between Tottenham Under 15s and a Brent Schools select, featuring Sterling, who was thought to be available for £200,000. Remarkably, Spurs turned him down, because academy coaches were split about his long-term potential and the challenges of his background. Fulham were convinced they were about to sign him. “We had Raheem in the building, and were totally blown away when Liverpool came in for the boy,” admitted Barry Simmonds, their chief scout. Anderson and McParland had successfully lobbied Sterling’s family, and close friends, that Raheem’s best interests would be served by a £1 million move to Merseyside.
A month before his 15th birthday, he was billeted with ‘house parents’ and installed in the fifth form at Rainhill School in St Helens.
That last line makes nonsense of Ian Ladyman’s clim in the Mail that Sterling is a kid out of his depth. Ladyman compares Sterling’s contract manoeuverings with those of his former Liverpool colleague Luis Suarez, who also sought an early exit from Anfield:
“Suarez was a worldly-wise, well travelled football gun for hire when he decided to take Liverpool on. He left home at 14. He could cope. Sterling, on the other hand, still looks like a boy…and in some ways he still is.”
That would be the same Raheem Stelring who left his native Jamaica at age six and then moved from London to Liverpool at 14.
Ladyman doesn’t seeme to have read the Daily Mail’s 2012 profile of Sterling’s “extraordinary story”:
“Long before he confirmed his place as football’s next big thing with his first Premier League goal last weekend, Sterling was a whippet-quick slip of a boy from Jamaica with flowing plaits, using his skill to embarrass grown men in adult matches, laughing as they floundered in his wake… His journey… began almost 5,000 miles away in a notoriously dangerous district of Kingston, Jamaica, where he lived until he was six, when he emigrated to Britain and settled with his family on one of London’s toughest estates.
In 2002, the Standard said of Stonebridge:
The area just north of Harlesden, comprising a maze of shabby concrete estates – Stonebridge, St Raphael’s and Churchend – is one of the poorest places in Britain and has become a breeding ground for violent crime and drug dealing.
Sterling ended up at Vernon House Special School, surrounded by “troubled” children. He “shunned gangs to play five-a-side with friends, and the Copland High School playing fields, in nearby Wembley, where he honed his game.”
We hear from Ann John, a Labour councillor for Stonebridge Ward. (Full disclosure: I grew up not far away. I’d avoid the Stoneridge Estate if it meant a much longer walk. It was notorious. It was a place anyone sane would want to get out of.) Says John:
“This is a real rags-to-riches story, so he deserves all the success he gets.”
One of Sterling’s former teachers says:
“Raheem is amazingly intelligent in so many ways… Raheem is a brilliant thinker. He would get concepts off the football pitch as well as on it. He had a great work ethic which lots of the other kids didn’t.”
So. That’s Raheem Sterling: ambitious, talented, smart and driven. Greedy? Yeah, probably. But no more or less than most of us.
Liverpool fans who want him to be one of their own are dreaming. He never was one of yours…