Fall 2021 SS Magazine

England star Raheem Sterling says faith is 'massive' to him

England men’s national team manager Gareth Southgate’s confidence in winger Raheem Sterling has never wavered, and the 26-year-old is once again showing Southgate’s faith in him is justified.

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Sterling netted his third goal of the European Championship on Tuesday, getting on the end of Luke Shaw’s cross in the 75th minute to open the scoring in England’s round-of-16 matchup with Germany.

Harry Kane added a second goal 11 minutes later to secure England’s place in the quarterfinals. It was the team’s first goal of the tournament scored by someone other than Sterling. All three of his goals have turned out to be game-winners.

“Doing it for your country will always be special and it’s definitely a special moment for me,” Sterling told the BBC after the game. “I celebrated and then for half a second I thought: ‘Let it not be offside.’ But yeah, really happy it went in and really happy we got the win.”

The Manchester City star has been at his best playing for his national team, scoring 15 goals and assisting on seven more in 21 appearances since reaching the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup. He found the back of the net 14 times for City as they won the Premier League for the third time in four seasons this year, and reached the Champions League final.

As Sterling has risen to fame, he has relied on his faith. In a July 2019 interview with GQ, he was asked how important his faith was to him.

“Massive,” he said. “Massive. Massive to me. I always give thanks for my life, always give thanks for my family’s life and I’m just really grateful for the position I’m in.”

Sterling, whose dad was killed when he was 2, went on to explain in the interview that his mom brought him up in the Church and he credits her with introducing him to Christianity. He also said his faith grew as he prayed after moving from the Queens Park Rangers academy to Liverpool in 2010.

The foundation of that faith is an unshakeable belief in God and His preeminence.

“I’ve got no doubt,” Sterling said in the same interview. “Not one. I know for sure. Every day you wake up, you just look around and you don’t need to look any further than what you see. A lot of scientists, the cleverest people in the world tell you that there has to be a creator. And they need answers, but you just have to sometimes accept that it’s bigger than you and you have to leave it at that.”

Born in Jamaica, Sterling has established himself as one of the top attacking threats in the Premier League during his time in Manchester. Only the aforementioned Kane, Mo Salah and Jamie Vardy have scored more league goals than Sterling over the past four seasons.

But his contributions extend well beyond the field. It was announced earlier this month Sterling would be given the honorific title of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, or an MBE, for his work in the fight for racial justice.

“If it doesn’t start from within, then there’s no way you can help others,” Sterling said following the announcement. “I’m learning every day. My motivation for racial equality is to get people to understand the difficulties people from diverse backgrounds face and create an environment where everybody is equal.”

England next faces Ukraine in the quarterfinals of the European Championship at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. The winner of that game will take on the Czech Republic or Denmark in the semifinals.

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