In an exclusive chat with Sky Sports’ Patrick Davison, Raheem Sterling reflects on joining the Premier League’s 100 club, how he wants to achieve more and his career so far.
The Manchester City forward became the 32nd player to score a century of Premier League goals with a penalty during a 1-0 victory against Wolves last weekend and is the eighth youngest to reach the milestone at the age of 27.
Sterling says he is proud of his achievement, but continues to target more – as he has done so throughout his successful career.
He told Davison ahead of Man City’s trip to Newcastle on Super Sunday: “It’s been incredible. I said growing up, all I ever wanted to do was be a professional football player.
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“You make your debut against Wigan and that’s your target, from there it’s onto the next one like scoring your first goal. After that, there’s always more to achieve.
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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win against Wolves with Raheem Sterling scoring his 100th Premier League goal
“Getting into the 100 club, I think it’s an incredible achievement but at 27, there’s still a lot of things to achieve.
“I’m really grateful. As a young child, you never know if you’re going to make it or not. One of my biggest dreams was to be a football player and to say I’ve made my debut and I’m actually doing alright, I’m really proud of myself and I’m hungry to keep getting better.
“I’m always looking for the next thing. That’s how I’ve always been since I was younger, I always set myself targets and once you’ve met them, you need to move onto the next thing. That’s all we can do, what’s in front of us and how can we achieve the next.
With Raheem Sterling joining the 100 Premier League goals club, we take a look at some of the greatest he has scored in the competition to date
“My [career] highlights are definitely winning my first Premier League title. That was a huge moment in my life and career. There are dreams and then there’s reality so it was really good to get my hands on the trophy.
“I’m looking forward to what the next couple of years can bring. I need to make sure I maintain that level. I’ve reached 100 now and that’s all well and good, but I want to keep chipping away and keep doing more and winning.”
With more to come from the Man City forward, what’s the next target for Sterling?
“Get as close to 200 as possible! I’ve got to score at least 18 to 20 goals a season and keep chipping away. If you can get double digits for multiple seasons, you’ve got a chance of winning it.”
How Sterling came to love scoring goals
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was full of praise for forward Raheem Sterling after he scored his 100th Premier League goal
Although he has 100 Premier League goals in his pocket, Sterling admits that scoring was not always his main focus when he started out.
He reflected: “When I was younger, I scored goals, but it wasn’t something I was obsessed with. I was obsessed with ‘megging someone or obsessed with doing a stepover and he’s gone that way and I’ve gone that way. That’s what I grew up on in London and what I really enjoyed. It’s what I took the most pride in.
“It wouldn’t be like I would be there after training, practising finishing because it’s not what I wanted to do on a matchday. I wanted to beat my man and make him look silly. Around the 2017/18 season, that was the time I tried to polish up, tried to do extras and try to help myself to get better.
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“When you’re 17 and you break into the first team, you can put on a great performance and that’s all that’s going to get talked about because of your age. But then there comes a point where people are expecting things from you.
“They’re expecting you to win a match or assist a goal. When I started to get questioned on that, I thought ‘I need to really kick on here’.
“It’s about repetition and your mentality. If a game is coming up on Saturday and from Monday, you tell yourself you’re going to score, you more than likely will score. It’s a bit of both.
“I’ve always been a player that has been in positions where I can score goals so I knew if I could focus and get my mentality right to enjoy scoring goals, I could do it.”
‘I’m disappointed with how I left Liverpool’
Raheem Sterling says he is 'disappointed' with the way he left Liverpool in 2015
Going further back into Sterling’s career, he scored his first Premier League for Liverpool against Reading in October 2012, having initially joined the club’s academy from QPR.
In early 2015, there was a reported contract dispute between Sterling and Liverpool, which saw him depart for Man City that summer for a fee of £49m. It is a departure that he calls ‘disappointing’ and still holds high regard for the club.
He said: “Sometimes you’ve got to know what you want. Your career is only short, you don’t really know what’s going to happen.
“At times, we make decisions and they might not be the right ones. Sometimes, it turns out for the better. The only thing I will say is the way it [Sterling’s exit from Liverpool] went about was the thing I am more disappointed about. But other than that, it’s been so far, so good.
Raheem Sterling scored his first Premier League goal against Reading in 2012
“I said at the time, I felt like my ambitions and Liverpool’s ambitions at the time weren’t really aligned. The way it went about is the only disappointment I have from it.
“I did [have good times at Liverpool], at such a young age with a club that invested a lot in me. It had a big part in my teenage years so they’ve had a massive role in my life. It’s a club I hold really closely, my daughter still lives in Liverpool and I’ve got a lot of time for the people there.
“When friends or something ask what it’s like at Anfield, I always say if you have a game coming up against Manchester United or Man City, it almost felt like the fans and the city gave you an extra superpower, making you feel like you could do things you didn’t think you could do, that’s how it felt. It’s a really special stadium.”
Adapting on and off the field at City
Raheem Sterling also revealed how much he has adapted in his six years at Man City
Having joined Man City when he was still only 20, Sterling has adapted his mindset both on and off the field as he has matured. He credits older players at the club with teaching him about recovery techniques to prolong his career.
Reflecting on his move to City, Sterling explained: “It was something new. It was a big transfer fee at the time and I was still young. I didn’t really think about it. When I first saw it, I probably thought ‘that’s a bit much’, but it’s a learning curve.
“You’re going into a new environment with players who have won World Cups, won the Premier League before so you can see on matchdays how they operate, how they look after themselves and take things from their game – not necessarily on the field, but mostly off the field and how they live.
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“There are always continuous games so you had to get into that mindset of eating and sleeping football.
“Around the time when I was hanging out with Fabian Delph and Gael Clichy when they were at the club, that was the time I was maturing a bit more – I was hanging around with the older guys, I thought I was cool. They’ve been in the game for years, but there was lots of advice on ice baths, massages – seeing them being on the massage table every day, I don’t know if they just needed it.
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“Before [when Sterling was younger], as soon as training was finished, one of the physios would come in and ask if you wanted treatment, you’d say ‘no, I’m good’, and I always felt like that. But seeing the older pros doing that stuff and realising the turnaround from games, your body needs it.
“When I was first at City, I was doing little things like going to a restaurant and it’s not that you’re doing anything necessarily bad, but the more time you can spend off your feet, relaxing at home, the more rest and chilled out you are. You’re going to have more energy, you’re going to sleep better and it’s really beneficial.
“When you’re 17 or 18, you’re giddy and really excited, it’s your first time being a professional football player and you have to adjust to what is actually happening in your life and what it is that you really want. Are you just happy you’ve become a professional, or do you want to make the most out of it? And that’s what I wanted to do, make the most out of it.”
Of course, in six years at Manchester City, plenty has changed. Even over the last few seasons with the departures of stalwarts Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, City’s play under Pep Guardiola has been tweaked.
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Sterling explained: “It’s not as quick as we used to play in terms of how we used to get into the attacking third. It was me on one side and Leroy Sane on the other side – it was like two motorbikes.
“Now the wingers are more left foot on the right wing and right foot on the left wing and it’s a bit more patient. It’s a bit more keep ball and it’s not as dynamic, but both teams keep the ball really well and score goals.”
Former City striker Aguero announced his retirement earlier this week, having been diagnosed with a heart condition, and Sterling reflected on the end of his former team-mate’s career.
He said: “It’s really sad. He probably had a lot of ambitions that he still wanted to reach at 33 so it was sad to see him go out like that. But then again, he’s healthy and he’s well so that’s the most important thing.
“His finishing was absolutely ridiculous. To see him in a warm-up before a game, he was so relaxed, he doesn’t really take things seriously in a warm-up. How easy he made some of that finishing look was scary.
“He can look back on his career with the biggest smile because he’s an absolute legend and not just for Man City. With Argentina, he’s a player that for many years and years to come, strikers growing up will look to him.”
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