Raheem Sterling: Manchester City and England forward discusses England & Euro 2020 with Gareth Southgate

Sterling: If you grew up in a certain area you feel like there are limits

As part of his appearance as guest editor on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling spoke to his England head coach Gareth Southgate.

They discussed the togetherness in the England camp, the Euro 2020 tournament, taking a knee, the 2022 World Cup and Sterling’s work with his foundation.

As part of the programme, Sterling’s mum Nadine spoke about his upbringing – and her pride for her son’s “dream come true”.

Listen to the full interview here.

England team has ‘grown as one’ under Southgate

Southgate became the first manager to guide England’s men to a major final since 1966

Southgate became England manager in September 2016, leading them to fourth place at the 2018 World Cup – their first semi-final appearance at the tournament for 28 years.

In July, he guided England to their best performance at a men’s major tournament for 55 years, as they reached the final of Euro 2020, a competition that had been delayed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sterling credited Southgate with “bringing the team together” and making the environment “enjoyable to come into”.

“We know that when you’re as free in your head as you can be and can express yourself, that’s when we see the best versions of you,” Southgate said.

England’s performances at the past two major tournaments have been a significant improvement on Euro 2016, when they suffered a shock last-16 exit against Iceland in Nice.

Sterling added: “After the Euros in France, the team came out of that with really bad press. It was a really difficult period over the next couple of years. The belief wasn’t there within the team.

“When Gareth came in, he really tried to make us understand that yes, that’s what the scarring is, but how are we going to change it? The team has grown as one.

“We want to do things as a collective. The one thing about this team is, when you come in the building, we are so integrated.”

After the Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy on penalties, “unforgivable” racist abuse was aimed at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who were targeted following their spot-kick misses.

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