England v Germany: Raheem Sterling's ex-coach 'knew he'd play for England'

29 June 2021, 11:08

'From the first time I saw him, I knew he was going to be a pro.'

By Tim Dodd

Raheem Sterling’s former football coach Paul Lawrence says he knew Raheem would be a professional footballer 'from the first time' he saw him, ahead of England's Euros match against Germany tonight.

The conversation comes as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urges employers to let their staff out early to catch the England v Germany Euro 2020 game this evening.

"I first knew Raheem when he was eight years old. His sister kept saying to me how good he was as a player, so I said to her 'one day can you bring him in, and I'll let him play against some of our year sevens and eights'.

"So Raheem came in and absolutely ran rings around them, scored loads of goals, made loads of chances, and these guys were like 3 or 4 years older than him."

Nick Ferrari then asked: "Does he have this sort of soccer-brain? He seems to have a tremendously low point of gravity, he's quite difficult to push over this lad."

Mr Lawrence replied: "Yeah, from a young age he was always able to ride the tackles, and put up with all the bumps and barges from people a lot bigger and stronger than him, and quicker than him."

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Nick continued: "And I'd imagine unless you're going to tell me that you've had other great lads through, that he's probably one of the most gifted players you've seen at that age, is that fair?"

"He's definitely the most gifted player I've seen at his age," Mr Lawrence replied.

"Right from the first time I saw him, I knew he was going to be a professional footballer, and I knew that he would go on to England and play really well.

"There was nothing else on his mind. That was the only thing he wanted to do, to the extent that he wouldn't even speak to nobody about it, he was so humble, so down to earth. He just got on with it every day. He was one of the first people at training every session, one of the last to leave, he'd always help with the equipment.

"He always wanted to learn and improve. He was really good at dribbling or running with the ball - he still wanted to improve that."

England is hoping they can progress to the quarter-finals tonight just a day after pre-tournament favourite France crashed out to Switzerland on penalties.

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