England international youngster Raheem Sterling has become the crown jewel at Liverpool following his incredible breakthrough season, though it wasn’t too long ago he was flustered at the sight of a former Kop hero.
The 19-year-old arrived at Anfield in 2010, signing from the Queens Park Rangers academy for a reported initial fee of £600,000.
He went on to make his Premier League debut for the Reds during the 2012-13 season, but it wasn’t until last year where he cemented his place in Brendan Rodgers’ first team with a number of fabulous performances.
Now, recognised at international level and looked upon as an idol figure for the younger players learning the game, former boss Rafa Benitez revealed how Sterling was once in their shoes as he was left star-struck when meeting former star striker Fernando Torres whilst on a trip to Melwood.
“Our then academy boss Frank McParland came up to me one day and said, ‘I’ve seen this player – we’ve been following him for a while and I think he’s got something - so we invited Raheem to Melwood and had a meeting with him and his mother.” He said, quoted by the Mirror.
“I walked around the complex with them and was showing them the facilities and we got as far as the physio’s room. Fernando was there – and I think Steven Gerrard, too. But definitely Fernando. I explained what Raheem and his mum were doing and I told Fernando what we thought of the young player we had brought in.”
“He had a quick chat with him, asking how he was getting on. He was interested in him. Raheem was really pleased – and you could see his mum was, too – really impressed that the club’s biggest players had made a fuss of him.
“It was strange for me to show the young players around because in Spain, the manager doesn’t go around with new players, even younger ones. But I think they appreciated that we, all of us, had taken time to speak to them. Torres and Gerrard really were the big players in our team at that time.”
Spanish international Torres spent three-and-a-half years on Merseyside, scoring an incredible 81 goals in 142 appearances in all competitions.
His immense popularity in the North West, however, deteriorated in his final season due to injuries and his subsequent £50 million move to Chelsea has been labelled one of the most controversial transfers in Premier League history.