Saturday, October 16, 2021

Sterling says England players ´feel loved´ by fans as he praises Southgate

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 5 Oct 2021

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Raheem Sterling has praised the “fantastic job” done by Gareth Southgate in helping to change the perception of the England team, both with the national media and the supporters.

After a spell as interim boss, Southgate was appointed on a permanent basis in November 2016. Since then, he has steered England to a World Cup semi-final and the Euro 2020 final, where the Three Lions lost on penalties to Italy.

Sterling has been a key member of the squad during the current reign, having made his international debut under Rory Hodgson back in 2012.

“I feel like when I first went into the camp, it was very much them versus us, the media versus the players,” Sterling, who has won 70 international caps and scored 18 goals, said in an interview with Sky Sports.

“When Gareth came in, he made it very clear what his intentions were, they were to make England challenge on all fronts, make us challenge at Euros and World Cups.

“If we were to do that, we had to change the perception in the media, public and us the players – we all had to be one if we wanted to achieve something with the national team.

“From the moment he [Southgate] came in, he really tried to work on building that relationship with the media and the fans and I think he’s done a fantastic job at doing that.”

The Manchester City forward scored three goals in the European Championship run, with the team as a whole embracing the opportunity to play on home soil in all bar one of their fixtures.

England have shown few signs of suffering a Euros hangover since the agonising defeat to Italy at Wembley Stadium; they sit top of their group in World Cup qualifying, despite a late equaliser by Poland last month ending their 100 per cent record.

Ahead of games against Andorra and Hungary, Sterling made clear how much the players appreciate the support they receive when representing their country.

“I think the fans are reconnected with the players again and you can see it when you go into the games, the players feel loved,” Sterling added.

“Going into the games, even in the summer, you didn’t feel any pressure. People might say ‘you played every game at Wembley’, but that’s huge pressure as you’re at home and people expect things from you.”

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