England boss Gareth Southgate has praised Raheem Sterling’s “incredible resilience and hunger” after the Manchester City forward’s standout performances at the ongoing European Championship.
Sterling has scored three goals, including the opener in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Germany, to help the Three Lions reach the quarterfinals.
Sterling has netted 15 goals in his past 20 England games, having gone 27 without scoring before that.
“He is a fighter,” said Southgate.
“He’s got an incredible resilience and hunger. He has developed over the past few years this real hunger to score.”
“Even in the games 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 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.”
Southgate also said he was happy for fans to continue asking questions about the 26-year-old, who he feels uses criticism as motivation.
“To deliver them at Wembley would be really special for him and, as you said, the goals return is incredible,” added Southgate, who highlighted Sterling’s two-goal performance in England’s Uefa Nations League win over Spain in October 2018 as a “real lift-off moment” for the former Liverpool winger.
“Absolutely incredible, really, but please keep asking the questions because if we cannot motivate him everyone else will certainly be able to.”
England travel to Rome, Italy, for their Euro quarterfinal against Ukraine on Saturday in a bid to reach the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in 25 years.
Victory over Andriy Shevchenko’s side would set up a last-four encounter with Denmark or the Czech Republic. – BBC Sport
Euro 2020 quarterfinal fixtures
- Switzerland vs Spain, 6pm
- Belgium vs Italy, 9pm
- Czech Republic vs Denmark, 6pm
- Ukraine vs England, 9pm