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Published 13 June 2021 1 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Raheem up and running

Written by:

Tom Dean

Three Lions' matchwinner reflects on his first major tournament goal on his home turf of Wembley

Raheem Sterling credited the ‘extra boost’ of playing in front of a home crowd after scoring his first goal in a major tournament during England’s 1-0 victory over Croatia. 

The 26 year old grew up just a stone’s throw away from Wembley Stadium and netted his 15th, and most significant goal so far, for the Three Lions as they earned maximum points in their UEFA EURO 2020 opener. 

The Manchester City star extended his record of having won all eleven international games in which he’s scored but is conscious that England’s continued success will depend on a continued team effort. 

“When you’re in front of your home crowd it’s an extra boost and you’ve got to come in with a clear head and just be excited to play in front of the fans,” Sterling said in his post-match press conference. 

“You’ve got people behind you, supporting you and coming from the hotel, it’s a great feeling so we just had to use it to our advantage. 

“It’s great to break that duck but at the same time I’m focused and not really taking that in, the most important thing is to try and win. It’s good to get in the scoresheet and I’m someone that’s hungry for goals but I know the true value of a team. 

“It’s great to get off to a win but at the same time, we know we’ve got a lot to do and build on from that performance. The togetherness of the boys - they dug in deep and we got the result we deserved.

“It's great to get off to a win. That's the most important thing, to get off to a win. Now we've got the next game to look forward to and hopefully we can go out and win again.”

Sterling’s goal might’ve been the winner but the performance of Kalvin Phillips in midfield would've been pleasing to see for Gareth Southgate, and it was the Leeds United man who provided the assist for the winning goal. 

With Jordan Henderson regaining his fitness, Phillips could prove crucial for Southgate and his efforts were appreciated by Sterling just as much as they were by the onlooking Wembley crowd. 

“He was good in there and he brings a lot of energy to the team,” he said. “He plays on the front foot and is in the opposition’s faces but at the same time he uses the ball well and you can see from our goal the clever play he has. 

“He brings a lot to the team and you can see in his first major tournament and first major game he’s done brilliantly.”