England World Cup player Raheem Sterling: First ever newspaper interview at the age of 14

Raheem Sterling was 14 when he gave his first ever newspaper interview to the Times

Raheem Sterling was 14 when he gave his first ever newspaper interview to the Times - Credit: Archant

England’s World Cup playing sensation Raheem Sterling has been catapulted firmly into the limelight thanks to his skills on the pitch.

Paul Lawrence with Raheem Sterling last year

Paul Lawrence with Raheem Sterling last year - Credit: Archant

The footballer from Neasden gave his first ever newspaper interview to the Times at the age of just 14 while he was a pupil at Copland Community School in Wembley.

Five years on and he’s set to be paid £100,000 a week player by his club Liverpool once he returns to England.

Below is that very first interview where the schoolboy admitted he was a Manchester United fan and revealed he could have played for Jamaican or Canada but chose England.

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Raheem Sterling shows off the winners trophy at the 2009 London Youth Games with Brent (pic: London

Raheem Sterling shows off the winners trophy at the 2009 London Youth Games with Brent (pic: London Youth Games) - Credit: Archant

Surrounded by hype, it looks as if many QPR fans are already pinning their hopes of future glory on Raheem Sterling.

The Neasden teenager’s name has been extolled far and wide during a fortnight that encompassed call-ups to both the England under-16 team and Rangers’ reserve side.

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Tabloid gossip columns have already touted Sterling for an imminent league debut and a move to one of the Premier League’s big boys – even though he is still a few weeks from his 15th birthday.

This may be premature.

Raheem Sterling, then a QPR player, in action for England Under-16s. Photo credit: Lynne Cameron/PA

Raheem Sterling, then a QPR player, in action for England Under-16s. Photo credit: Lynne Cameron/PA wire - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

But there is no doubting that the young forward from St Raphael’s Estate is already a flag-bearer for the proud tradition of schools’ football in Brent.

In the past, the borough’s schools have produced a number of stars at the highest level, such as Stuart Pearce, Ricky Hill, Gary Waddock and Jason Roberts.

Arsenal full-back Kerrea Gilbert, meanwhile, is among the roll of former students at

Copland Community School, where Sterling is studying for his GCSEs.

Copland Community School in Wembley

Copland Community School in Wembley - Credit: Archant

The 14-year-old, who is also a good middle distance runner, has helped both school and borough to success in recent years, notably when he scored the decisive goal to

earn Brent the gold medal for football at last summer’s London Youth Games.

“Just the fact that Raheem’s here is good for our whole squad,” said Paul Lawrence,

head of PE at the Wembley school.

“The boys all want to play for the same team as him –they want to impress and try

and improve themselves.

“They’ve seen how hard Raheem works and it makes them think about how far they

can go and gives them hope that maybe they can play for the district or the borough, or get into a professional team.

“We’ve had four boys who played for England under-16s and went on to under-18 level, including Kerrea. It would be nice to think Raheem could work his way up through the ranks with England.”

Sterling is also qualified for Jamaica and Canada, but certainly caught the eye on his first appearance in an England shirt after he came on for the second half against Northern Ireland at Chester earlier this month.

The Copland youngster set up Matthias Fanimo for England’s second goal in a 2-0 win that ensures they will retain the Victory Shield if they avoid defeat against

Scotland at Tynecastle next week.

“At first I just said to Steve Gallen, my manager at QPR, ‘are you being serious?’ when he said I’d got a call-up for England,” Sterling told the

Times.

“It was like a dream –I was so happy and I was telling all my friends. We spent a whole week there before the game and I knew I had to do my best in training.

“It was great, although I wasn’t in the starting line-up. I wasn’t really nervous –I just

wanted to impress the manager for the next game and he said ‘well done’ to the

whole team afterwards.”

It was Gallen, the youth development manager at QPR, who pushed Sterling up to under-16 level and then brought him into the under-18 side this season. And the teenager revealed that veteran Gareth Ainsworth – who played alongside him when he made his debut for the reserves against Crawley Town last week –has also had

a significant influence.

“When Gareth Ainsworth was caretaker manager last year, he used to come and watch the under-16s train and since then he’s been pushing

me on,” Sterling added.

“He says he wants to see me in the first team before he leaves the club.

“Everyone’s been pretty nice –they all just treat me like one of them and want me to do my best. I’d like to play a few more games for the reserves and play for the first

team eventually.

“Jim Magilton has watched me play and train and he said ‘keep doing what you’re doing –I’m not afraid to chuck young players in the first team’.

If it happened, I’d just have to be a bit smarter than normal.”

It’s still another year before Sterling can sign a professional contract – so what if Manchester City were to come calling before then, as has been rumoured?

“Robinho is my favourite player,” Sterling admitted.

“Playing just behind the striker is my best position.

Actually I support Man United –but I just want to stay at QPR for the moment and go from there.”

Related link: Raheem Sterling from Brent to Brazil: An interview with his football coach at school