A 'great feeling' as Brent boy Raheem Sterling scores in his back garden
- Credit: PA
Raheem Sterling got England off to a winning start at the Euros — scoring a goal just a stone’s throw from where he grew up.
The 26-year-old, who lived in Neeld Crescent in the shadow of Wembley Stadium in the North West London borough of Brent, netted in the 57th minute to give the Three Lions a 1-0 victory over Croatia in their Euro 2020 opener.
“It’s a great feeling for me playing at Wembley, not far from where I grew up as a young boy and seeing the stadium being built," he said.
“I’ve always said, if I played at Wembley in a major tournament I’m scoring at Wembley, in my back garden. I said I have to score — and it's great to finally do that.”
The Manchester City star has a good scoring record for England in recent times, having netted 12 in 16 games going into the Euros.
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But he had never found the back of the net in either a World Cup or European Championship in his previous 12 appearances, breaking that duck by tucking home a slide-rule pass from Kalvin Phillips.
Sterling's selection was questioned ahead of the game, with his form at City towards the back of the season seemingly a cause for concern for supporters.
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But Sterling revealed he has been playing long enough to be able to keep himself closed off from the outside world in terms of personal criticism and tournament expectations for England.
"It's early days, you know. It's great to get off to a win," he said.
"We know as a team we've got a lot to do, we've got a lot to build off from that performance but at the same time the most important thing is the togetherness in the team.
"You see at the end boys digging in deep. I keep banging on about the weather, it was difficult conditions, the pitch was dry, but we didn't make any excuses.
"To be honest with you, I think one of the things, playing football and being in major tournaments for a long time now, is knowing when to block noise out and that's what I've done.
"I've blocked the outside world off and just had to focus on coming into this tournament with a clear head, fully focused to help my team and that's the most important thing.
"I haven't tried to listen to any noise outside, focus on myself. I know what I can bring to the team and it's as simple as that."