England boss Gareth Southgate believes all credit must go to Raheem Sterling for the way he’s changed the narrative around him.
English newspapers have been openly attacked by Sterling for feeding racism after he was subjected to racist abuse in a Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in December.
Due to racial prejudice, Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand implied that Sterling’s great performances this season may go unnoticed for the Player of the Year award.
But Southgate disagrees with Ferdinand’s comments and hailed the way Sterling has handled the situation.
“No, because I would imagine that the other main candidate would be Virgil van Dijk and last year Mo Salah won,” said Southgate, according to Sky Sports.
“So I don’t think that it would be as simple a situation as that really. I don’t think anybody will be looking at the candidates this year on anything other than the way they’ve played the game.
“I think that it’s been really pleasing that the narrative has changed around him and all credit for that goes to him.
“If you went back to post-World Cup and how he must have felt about some of the reaction to his performances.
“For us, he was always one of the first names on the team sheet and his contribution to the team was so important.
“The obvious thing was that he hadn’t scored the goals that he would have wanted. He’s managed to go back to Manchester City and everything on the pitch has brought the right level of attention.”
England will play the Czech Republic at Wembley tonight in the opening game of their Euro 2020 qualification campaign in Group A with kick-off set for 20:45 (CET).
Marcus Rashford, Trent Alexander-Arnold, John Stones, Fabian Delph, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Luke Shaw have all been ruled out.