Raheem Sterling has vowed to finally emulate his blistering Manchester City form in an England shirt as the electric winger eyes redemption at the World Cup.
Sterling’s last taste of a major international tournament was a bitter one, but the forthcoming World Cup in Russia has the potential to be a far more uplifting experience.
Sterling endured vitriolic abuse for his tame performances at Euro 2016, a witch-hunt that peaked when he posted a social media message appearing to flaunt his wealth just hours after playing in England’s humiliating last 16 loss against Iceland.
His problems carried over to City as Sterling struggled to impress new boss Pep Guardiola last season, sparking rumours the winger would be sold.
But Sterling has a fiercely competitive streak burning between a largely placid demeanour and he rose to the challenge of proving Guardiola and his critics wrong.
The 23-year-old won back his place despite Guardiola’s pre-season signing of winger Bernardo Silva and has emerged as a key figure in City’s charge to the Premier League title.
“When there is doubt or I’m under pressure, that’s when I’m at my best,” Sterling told reporters on Monday.
“When you see stuff like you might not be in the squad, you think ‘Ok we’ll see’.
“It was the same thing in the summer when Bernardo signed and we already had Leroy (Sane).
“I thought to myself when I get back for pre-season, make sure I’m on it. I was looking forward to it.
Sterling credits Guardiola for seeing potential in the raw youngster who arrived from Liverpool convinced he had to win games all on his own.