In an exclusive chat with Sky Sports Patrick Davison, Raheem Sterling talks about joining the 100th Premier League side, how he wants to achieve more and his career so far.
The Manchester City striker became the 32nd player to score a century of Premier League goals from a penalty kick during the 1-0 win over Wolverhampton last weekend and is the eighth youngest player to reach the mark at the age of 27.
Sterling says he is proud of his accomplishments, but continues to aim for more – as he has done throughout his successful career.
Tell Davison before Man City’s trip to Newcastle the day Super Sunday: “It was unbelievable. I said growing up, all I wanted to do was be a professional footballer.
“Your first game against Wigan and that is your goal, and from there to the next one is like scoring your first goal. After that, there is always more to achieve.
“Joining the 100 team, I think it’s a great achievement but at the age of 27, there is still a lot of things to achieve.
“I am really grateful. As a young kid, you never know if you will make it or not. One of my biggest dreams was to be a footballer and to say that I made my debut and I am actually very proud of myself and I am hungry to keep improving.”
“I’m always looking for the next thing. That’s how I’ve always been since I was younger, I always set myself goals and once you achieve them you have to move on to the next thing. That’s all we can do, what’s ahead and how we can achieve the next.”
“Mine [career] The highlight is definitely winning his first Premier League title. That was a big moment in my life and career. There are dreams and then there are reality so it was really nice to get my hands on the cup.
“I am looking forward to what the next two years can achieve. I need to make sure I maintain that level. I am at 100 now and that is all well and good, but I want to keep falling and keep doing more and winning.”
With more Man City strikers, what’s Sterling’s next target?
“Get as close to 200 as I can! I have to score at least 18-20 goals a season and keep falling. If you can get two numbers in multiple seasons, you have a chance of winning.”
How did Sterling become a fan of scoring goals?
Although he has 100 Premier League goals in his pocket, Sterling admits that scoring wasn’t always his main focus when he started.
He said, “When I was younger, I scored goals, but it wasn’t something I was obsessed with. I was obsessed with ‘attracting someone or obsessed with doing a gradient and it went that way and I went that way.’ It’s what I grew up with in London and what I really enjoyed.” It is what I am most proud of.
“It’s not going to be like I’m going to be there after training, practicing to finish the match because that’s not what I want to do on match day. I wanted to beat my leg and make it look silly. In the 2017/18 season, that was the time I tried polishing, I tried doing extras and trying to help myself get better.
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“When you’re 17 and you get into the first team, you can put on a great performance and that’s all that’s going to be talked about because of your age. But then there comes a point where people expect things from you.
“They expect you to win a game or make a goal. When you started questioning me about that, I thought ‘I really need to get ahead here.'”
“It’s about repetition and your mentality. If the match is going to start on Saturday and from Monday you tell yourself you’re going to score, you’re more likely to score.
“I’ve always been a player who has been in positions where I can score goals, so I knew if I could focus and get my mentality right to enjoy scoring goals, I could do it.”
‘I am disappointed to leave Liverpool’
Returning to Sterling’s career, he scored his first Premier League title with Liverpool against Reading in October 2012, having initially joined the club’s academy from Queens Park Rangers.
In early 2015, there was a contract dispute between Sterling and Liverpool, which saw him leave for Manchester City that summer for a fee of £49m. It’s an exit he has described as “disappointing” and continues to be highly regarded by the club.
He said, “Sometimes you have to know what you want. Your career is only short, you don’t really know what’s going to happen.
“Sometimes we make decisions and those may not be the right ones. Sometimes, it turns out to be for the best. The only thing I will say is the way [Sterling’s exit from Liverpool] What happened is the thing I’m most disappointed about. But other than that, it’s been fine so far.
“I said at the time, I felt that my ambitions and the ambitions of Liverpool at the time were not really compatible. The way things went is the only disappointment I have felt.
“I did [have good times at Liverpool]At such a young age, with a club that invested in me so much. She had a huge role in my teenage years, so she had a huge role in my life. It’s a club that I hold really close to, my daughter still lives in Liverpool and I have a lot of time for people there.
“When friends or anything ask about the situation at Anfield, I always say if you have a game coming up against Manchester United or Man City, you feel the fans and the city give you an extra superpower, it makes you feel like you can do things you don’t think you can. Doing it, that’s what it felt like. It’s a really special playground.”
Adaptation on and off the field in City
Having joined Manchester City when he was still 20 years old, Sterling has adapted his way of thinking on and off the field as he matures. He credits the club’s older players with teaching him recovery techniques to extend his career.
Reflecting on his move to City, Stirling said, “It was a new thing. It was a big transfer fee at the time and I was still young. I didn’t really think about it. When I first saw it, I probably thought ‘that’s a little bit too much,’ but it’s a curve educational.
“You’re going into a new environment with players who have won the World Cup, won the Premier League before so you can see how they work on match days, how they take care of themselves and take advantage of things from their game – not necessarily on the field, but mostly off the field and how they live.
“There are always matches going on, so you had to get into the football eating and sleeping mentality.
“The time I was hanging out with Fabian Delph and Gael Clichy when they were at the club, that was the time I was growing a little bit more – hanging around with the older guys, I thought I was cool. They’ve been in the game for years, but it was There is a lot of advice about ice baths and massages – seeing them on the massage table every day, I don’t know if they just need it.
“Before [when Sterling was younger]Once the training is done, a doctor will come in and ask if you want treatment, you’ll say “No, I’m fine”, and it always felt like that. But seeing older professionals do these things and realizing the shift from gaming, your body needs it.
“When I was first in City, I used to do little things like go to a restaurant and that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily doing something bad, but the more time you spend off your feet and relaxing at home, the more rest and cold you’ll have more energy, and you’ll sleep. Better and this is really helpful.
“When you’re 17 or 18 you’re really giddy and excited, it’s the first time you’re a professional footballer and you have to adapt to what’s really going on in your life and what you really want. Are you just happy that you’re a professional, or do you want to Getting the most out of it? That’s what I wanted to do, to get the most out of it.”
Of course, in my six years at Manchester City, a lot has changed. Even over the past few seasons with the departures of great players Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, City’s playing style has been modified under Pep Guardiola.
“It’s not as fast as we used to play in terms of the way we used to play in attacking third,” Sterling explained. “It was me on one side and Leroy Sane on the other – it was like two motorbikes.
“Now the wingers are more left-footed on the right wing and right-footed on the left wing which is a bit more patient. It is a bit more of ball retention and not dynamic, but both teams keep the ball well and score goals.”
Former City striker Aguero announced his retirement this week, after he was diagnosed with a heart condition, and Sterling reflected on the end of his former teammate’s career.
He said, “It’s really sad. He probably had a lot of ambitions that he still wanted to be 33, so it was sad to see him come out that way. But then again, he’s healthy and he’s healthy, so that’s the most important thing.”
“His ending was so ridiculous. To see him in the warm-up before the match, he was so relaxed, he didn’t take things too seriously in the warm-up. How easy it was to make some of that final look was intimidating.
“He can look back on his career with the biggest smile because he is an absolute legend and not just for Man City. With Argentina, he is a player that strikers will look forward to for many years to come.”
Watch Newcastle vs Man City live on Super Sunday on Sky Sports Premier League from 1.30pm; Match kicks off at 2 pm.