Euro 2020: Gareth Southgate hails Raheem Sterling’s ‘incredible resilience’

The Manchester City winger has been enjoying a dream run at Euro 2020, emerging as England’s top goal scorer with three strikes.

Gareth Southgate in a file photo. (Image: Twitter)

Manager Gareth Southgate has called Raheem Sterling a “fighter” and has praised his resilience and hunger for goals. The Manchester City winger has been enjoying a dream run at Euro 2020, emerging as England’s top goal scorer with three strikes. Notably, he opened the scoring when England secured a 2-0 last-16 win over Germany on Tuesday evening. His other two goals came in the group stage against Croatia and the Czech Republic. “He is a fighter,” Southgate said of the Manchester City player.

“He has got an incredible resilience and hunger. He has developed over the last couple of years this real hunger to score, even in the games where the opportunities where the ball has flashed across the box earlier in the tournament, he has been in between the posts.

“He is finding himself in these areas and yes, his drive is fantastic, we know the journey he has been on with England and I am so happy for him to be able to deliver the performances he has. To deliver them at Wembley will have been really special for him and, as you said, the goals return is incredible. Absolutely incredible, really, but yes, please keep asking the questions because if we cannot motivate him everyone else will certainly be able to!”

It was not always an easy sailing for Sterling in his international career as he struggled for goals in the initial stages, scoring just two in his first 45 games. “He was probably only one of the players to come back from the World Cup with a different feeling and I talked to him at length about that,” Southgate said.

“I think Seville (a 3-2 Nations League win against Spain where Sterling scored twice) was a real lift-off moment for him. You could almost see it. He almost jumped into the second tier of the stadium if you look at the celebration that night of his goal.

“I really feel this was a significant moment for him and, of course, he had been scoring for his club but had not been able to translate that across. Now I think he feels happy in our environment, feels he can be himself, knows the respect we have for him and yes, his performance in every game this tournament, he has been a huge threat for every opponent.”

Gareth Southgate on Harry Kane

England captain Harry Kane ended his barren run at Euro 2020, netting the second against Germany in the last-16. As a result, the Three Lions will face Ukraine in the quarterfinals in Rome on Saturday. Southgate went on to speak about how much that goal would help Kane in this tournament.

“I played with Alan at Euro 96 and [saw] the change in him once he got that goal,” Southgate added. “We know with Harry and Raheem their goalscoring record with us has been immense and so important. We cannot just expect Harry to be the one to deliver so Raheem has weighed in at a crucial moment and is looking electric, but if we can get Harry scoring as well that is great for us as a team.

“There is a huge expectation and although at times it would feel from the outside it is a glamorous position to be in and they certainly get paid well, it comes with immense pressure and expectation and I think it is important as a manager to understand that and have empathy with that.”

Southgate believes the goal he got in the victory over Germany would be just what Kane needs. “Not only is there the public expectation but there is an inherent desire and drive that centre forwards have that if you win the game they don’t score and they are irritated.

“They cannot help that. That is the mindset of the top players. So it (the Germany win) will have been a perfect day for him. He wants the team to win more than anything else but for the team to win and him to score, without a doubt that will put a big smile on his face.”

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