Paul Gascoigne has told England forward Raheem Sterling to embrace the criticism he is getting from the terraces because it proves he is “doing something right”.
Liverpool star Sterling was roundly booed during Sunday’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland, with the 20-year-old having been criticised in recent weeks for an apparent desire to leave Anfield, leading to England manager Roy Hodgson saying he needs to “grow thicker skin” to deal with the jeers.
Gascoigne knows all too well about being under scrutiny having been involved in several controversies during his time playing for England, but the former midfielder is revered as one of the best players to wear the Three Lions shirt.
And the former Newcastle United, Tottenham and Rangers man believes Sterling should be flattered by the close attention he is getting.
Speaking to BBC 5Live he said: “There are 11 players on the pitch and Raheem was picked out. That means he is doing something right, because Roy knows he is a great player.
“I’d say to Sterling if you are getting kicked left, right and centre and getting booed it is because they are scared. They don’t want you playing and don’t want you on the ball because you are dangerous. Take it is as a compliment.
“Take a little bit from your club manager, a little bit from England manager and a little bit from what is being said by other people as well. The time to worry is when they stop talking about you.”
Gascoigne was speaking ahead of a screening of a film celebrating his football career.
The 48-year-old has had well-documented off-field problems, and said he was happy to have been diagnosed as an alcoholic.
“I didn’t know what was going on. Why did I wake up at 5am and want a drink? It was not normal,” Gascoigne added.
“People want to know if there is any medication they can take when they have an illness and it was a relief. I am happy in life, I am happy with the way things are going.
“I know it won’t last forever because I know what the press can write. The lies written about me over the last two years have been horrendous and you have to be strong to get through that.
“I accept that is going to be for life for me. I admit I haven’t dealt with it properly sometimes and hit the drink, it hasn’t be month-long benders it has been a few days and I have paid the consequences.”
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