Why Raheem Sterling deserves to be Sports Personality winner
- Credit: PA
He may be the 100/1 outsider, but Raheem Sterling would be a worthy winner of the BBC Sports Personality prize after a stellar 2021.
To some the name was a surprise inclusion on the shortlist of six alongside Tom Daley, Adam Peaty, Tyson Fury, Sarah Storey, and 1/14 favourite Emma Raducanu.
But, even in a year that has included British success at the Olympics and Paralympics, Sterling is well worth his place.
The 27-year-old scored key goals to help Manchester City to the Premier League crown and helped fire England to the Euro 2020 final - in his former stomping ground of Wembley.
And the boy from Brent has not forgotten his roots, returning to his former school in Wembley to launch the Raheem Sterling Academy.
He had previously given the Ark Elvin Academy a shout out ahead of the Wembley Super League kicking off back in April while there were even calls to give him the freedom of Brent following the Euros.
On the pitch, Sterling scored winning goals for England in Euro 2020 against the Czech Republic and Croatia, as well as getting onto the scoresheet against old rivals Germany.
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The Three Lions’ heroics were down to a team performance, the management of Gareth Southgate and fine individual performances from a squad that included Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish.
However, it was Sterling whose name is in the hat for the traditional end of season sports prize. Part of this may also be down to his stand against racism that in June saw him be awarded an MBE.
Man City’s number 7 has overcome personal and professional setbacks to stand at the top of the game and faced criticism from fans and the media beyond his peers. But Sterling has risen above what might have crushed others and deservedly has his name alongside the very best in British sport.
Recently history has not been kind to footballers up for the "SPOTY" prize - with David Beckham and Ryan Giggs the only winners this century.
But with a remarkable personal story, huge talent and a work ethic to match, football has every reason to be coming home with Raheem Sterling.
BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2021 will be broadcast on Sunday, December 19 on BBC One, live from MediaCity in Salford.