'Let's give Raheem Sterling the Freedom of Brent'

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling warming up before the FA Cup semi final match at Wembley Stadium,

Raheem Sterling - Credit: PA

Calls are growing to honour Raheem Sterling MBE with the Freedom of the Borough of Brent. 

The Manchester City footballer, who grew up in the borough, was the standout performer as England reached the final of Euro 2020. 

In June the 26-year-old was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to racial equality.

Former Stonebridge councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala, organiser of the annual Brent Super Cup, has launched a petition calling for him to be given the Freedom of Brent.

He said: "Raheem Sterling should definitely be given the Freedom of the Borough in Brent. He has been such an inspiration for not only our community but across the country.

"He has done great work in standing-up against discrimination and racism in our society.

"And he has undoubtedly been England’s best player of the tournament. We should be all proud of our 'boy from Brent'."

Raheem grew up on St Raphael's Estate in Neasden. He attended Oakington Manor Primary School before going to Copland Community School – now Ark Elvin.

Paul Lawrence with Raheem Sterling in 2013

Paul Lawrence with Raheem Sterling in 2013 - Credit: Archant

Raheem's former coach, Paul Lawrence, said: "That would be really nice as I think he has already got the love of Brent.

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"It would be really fitting especially as he always goes out of his way to mention he's the Boy From Brent. 

He's obviously extremely proud of the fact that he grew up in Brent, .

"He's inspiring everybody from all over Brent. I get feedback from different teachers at different schools, the knock on effect is simply amazing."

Rebecca Curtis, principal of Ark Elvin Academy, formerly Copland, said: "Raheem represents the best of us – he is hard working, humble and stands up for what he believes in.

"He has never forgotten where he came from despite the success he has achieved and champions Brent and our community at every opportunity."

Errol McKellar, an ambassador for Prostrate Cancer who grew up in Brent, said: "I would love to give him the keys for Brent, he deserves it.

"He's mentioned Brent more times than anyone else. 

"His MBE is a big honour, what he's done to raise the profile of racism, particularly in sport is massive."

Brent Council last awarded the Freedom of Brent in 2013 to Nelson Mandela.

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Brent Council leader, did not mention the Freedom of Brent honour as he said: "Raheem is a showpiece of what people can achieve when they are given the opportunities.

"We are immensely proud of our boy from Brent and will have talks with Raheem to see how we can honour him."

Sign the petition on https://home.38degrees.org.uk/