Hodgson remembers Sterling at 15: 'Incredible...'

Raheem Sterling Liverpool

England boss Roy Hodgson admits he was taken aback by Raheem Sterling's ability at the age of 15.

The 66-year-old gave Sterling his first appearance in a friendly while Liverpool boss four years ago and was impressed with what he saw of the youngster.

Hodgson brought the winger on with the Reds 1-0 down and the England boss recalls Sterling's "incredible balance" and ability to beat his man.

The then 15-year-old won Liverpool a penalty but, in Hodgson's words, the referee "didn't bother to give it."

"Daniel Ayala made a mistake to put us 1-0 down but Raheem came on with 10 minutes to go and won a penalty in front of 70,000 fans in a friendly and the ref decided he wouldn’t bother to give it," the Three Lions boss told reporters.

"He actually did get us into it. At the time he was a young, slightly built 15-year-old with an incredible balance and ability to go past people.

"But as a 15-year-old he was up against men in an important competition and he could get knocked off the ball.”

Several years on, Hodgson says he encouraged Sterling to play with freedom against Denmark on Wednesday, also insisting that the youngster is fully deserving of his place in the England squad.

“I did say to him and a couple of others, ‘Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because with your ability and aggression you can make a mistake and with your pace you can get back and put it right’. They can recover and they did that a few times," he said.

“He is selected now because in the last three months he has not only been playing for Liverpool but he has also been starting and you don’t have to be a genius that a sterling player like that gets in the squad. He deserves his place in the England squad.”

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image: © kong niffe

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