Jordan Henderson hails England and Liverpool team-mate Raheem Sterling
Last Updated: 05/09/14 12:40pm
Jordan Henderson considers Liverpool and England colleague Raheem Sterling to be the benchmark for aspiring talent.
Sterling, at the age of 19, has become a key performer for club and country following a number of assured displays which belie his inexperience.
Those who regularly play alongside him are not surprised, though, to see the youngster sparkling on the grandest of stages.
Raheem plays with no fear. He just wants to get the ball and run at people and take them on.
Henderson has seen enough of Sterling to know what he is capable of and believes he now sets the standard for those hoping to tread a similar path in the future.
He said after England’s 1-0 friendly victory over Norway on Wednesday: “Is Raheem an example to others? Yes, of course, because he has been an outstanding example since he’s come into the England team.
“He was outstanding in both games at the World Cup. For a 19-year-old to play like that on the world stage was magnificent.
“He continues to do it every week for Liverpool and he got man of the match again against Norway, so he’s very level-headed for a young lad his age – his football brain is not as young as that.
“He’s really clever with his positioning. He drives forward with the ball, and hopefully he can continue improving and working hard.
“Raheem plays with no fear. He just wants to get the ball and run at people and take them on. He was a big plus for us and hopefully he can do the same on Monday (against Switzerland).”
Henderson also believes that Sterling’s versatility marks him out as a class act, with it possible to use him in a playmaking role or on the flanks, but is confident that the teenager will not allow the hype surrounding his game to go to his head.
The Liverpool midfielder added: “When he is wide he can go in behind, come short, take players on one against one like he did for the penalty.
“That was a plus when he was wide but when he went to play as a No. 10 he got a little bit more of the ball and can drive forward with it.
“I think he is brilliant in both positions. It’s vital that he can play both so well. If we play different tactics he can adapt.”
Henderson said on the support Sterling is getting at Anfield: “I think he was 16 when I first saw him training with us. You could see he had the mentality to be a top player – but we try to keep his feet on the ground.
“He’s got the right people around him at the club both on and off the field.
“If he keeps working hard, with the players and the manager he has at Liverpool, he can really kick on.”