Remember when the hopes of a nation rested on a young Michael Owen or an even younger Wayne Rooney? Well there is now another young England star who could be destined to out-do both of them on the biggest stage of all.
Raheem Sterling may be only 19, but he has the talent and the confidence to take this summer’s World Cup by storm.
It is a sentiment echoed by his club manager Brendan Rodgers, who told the Guardian that the Liverpool winger could be one of the stars in Brazil.
“Let’s not forget he is a 19-year-old who has been one of the top players in one of the most competitive leagues in the world,” the Reds boss added.
And we would be wise to remember that, because Sterling has outshone players with considerably more experience than him, scoring 10 goals for Liverpool and setting up a further nine.
But his statistics only tell part of the story, as it is his fearlessness and his forward drive that suggest he could be England’s not-so-secret weapon this summer.
It is not time to put the expectation of a nation on his slim shoulders. But it is worth noting that if he continues in his rich vein of form, he has the potential to do better than both Owen – who lit up France 98 with that unforgettable goal against Argentina – and Rooney – for whom this will be his third World Cup.
Many – Rodgers included – feel Sterling is currently the best young player in Europe. But it is on stages like the one onto which he will soon step that potential becomes undeniable truth. And if the young winger can replicate his club form for Roy Hodgson’s England, there is no reason why the Three Lions could not soon possess one of the most effective and feared young players in the game.