The growth of Raheem Sterling as both a player and a man, with the eyes of the world on him, has been remarkable.
His rise to world-class status was epitomised on Friday night when he netted an impressive hat-trick against Czech Republic in an England shirt, the first senior international hat-trick of his career.
His first goal was a familiar sight for Manchester City fans, who see Sterling finishing from close range after tearing a defence open on a very regular basis; Sancho’s low cross made it a simple tap-in for Raheem.
Sterling’s second was arguably the pick of the bunch as he found himself with his back to goal and marked tightly inside the penalty area. He managed to twist his body and curl the ball across the goal and into the far side netting. High on the confidence of his brace, he completed his hat-trick from outside the area, where a wicked deflection helped capped off a memorable evening.
The winger has been a household name in England’s top-flight for years; so much so it is difficult to remember he is still just 24 years old.
Sterling has impressed at club level for years and made his debut for Liverpool back in 2012 when he was 17 years and 107 days old. He made rapid improvements to his game and became a key figure in the Liverpool attack that had Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge firing on all cylinders.
Since his move to Manchester City, the winger has managed to raise his status, becoming one of the most dangerous attackers in world football. The guidance of Pep Guardiola has been an influential factor to his continuous progress.
His performances on the pitch have impressed many celebrities.
Raheem Sterling is a national treasure.
— Spencer FC (@SpencerOwen) March 22, 2019
A hattrick for the brilliant @sterling7. What a marvellous footballer he’s become. 👏👏
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 22, 2019
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 22, 2019
However, international football was a growing frustration for Raheem as he struggled with a 27-match run without a goal.
Fast forward to under the Wembley arch on Friday and he was the full package; pace, decisiveness and of course, a killer finishing touch making him a menace to defend against. Whilst many saw him nestle the net to complete his hat-trick as the defining moment, others regarded his celebration for his second goal, a dedication to Damary Dawkins, 13, who lost his battle with leukaemia last Sunday, as the defining moment for him as a figure to aspire to.
His demeanour off the pitch, given all the unneeded criticism he has faced, portrays him to be the fantastic role model to all young people. The way he has dealt with the racist remarks from Chelsea fans back in December, the national outrage at a tattoo remembering his late father and his campaigning for the aforementioned Damary Dawkins search for a stem cell donor are all signs of his caring and respectful nature.
He is inspiring many young children and others older than them not just aspire to become a professional footballer but also to become better people.