Published 07 May 2021 3 min read
England Men's Senior Team
'I literally fell in love with football there'
In the first of our new series, England's Raheem Sterling talks us through his younger days and how the grassroots game helped him progress...
I’m from Wembley.
Everyone has this thing that I’m from Neasden, I’m from St. Raph’s, Stonebridge, everywhere.
Nah, I’m from Wembley, like that’s where the majority of my childhood was.
Two jumpers on the green at the back of my house.
That was like, that was actually our Wembley - you had guys coming from Church Road, Stonebridge, like all my friends or not even just my friends, you know, people hearing the ball game’s getting hot up here.
It was a regular occurrence after school, like get your chicken and chips and yeah, we’d kick ball for a good period of time.
I was behaving naughty in school and a guy that was like my mentor in school, and mentor outside of school as well, he was like: ‘what do you like doing? We need to get you smiling, get you happy and whatnot’.
And I was like ‘yeah, I enjoy playing football in the playground’.
Funny enough, he was a coach at a Sunday League team and he brought me down.
He was like a, you know, like an actual good role model. He was within the community, he was the person that made me realise there is more to life than just being a naughty kid and having something that you love and put maximum effort in to.
It was a new experience for me. I had never kicked a ball anywhere before properly, so to go there I remember I literally fell in love with football there, everything about it.
It was something different man, you know, outside of my comfort zone.
Every time I go back to Wembley Stadium; FA Cup, whatever it is, it’s just like banter.
Literally like to this day, I can’t even think it’s real. When you look at certain streets and you’re like ‘rah, I was there’.
And just looking back, every time I go there I’m literally just like laughing like in my head like ‘rah, this is nuts, this is actually crazy’.
But at the same time when you get on the pitch, it’s like I have a strong belief that I’m going to do well at Wembley Stadium no matter what. There’s no way - I’m at home, in my area - I’m not turning up.
When you come to this place now it’s an unbelievable feeling but then you look back at them times and you think it was just everything.
07 May 2021 3:53
This is Football: Raheem Sterling
The England forward takes us back to his days growing up and discovering grassroots football