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Liverpool youngster Raheem Sterling has revealed how he learned to use skill to combat physicality from opponents, and that the next stage in his development is to add more goals to his game.
The 18-year-old has been a revelation during 2012-13, breaking into the first team set-up under Brendan Rodgers and excelling at senior level - topped by a full international cap for England.
It has been a lightning-fast journey for Sterling, who has quickly amassed 34 appearances for the Reds.
The forward admits he has had to adapt to the challenges of regular Barclays Premier League football, although his own particular characteristics are helping to overcome any obstacles.
The No.31 told the Daily Mail: "I was mocked by the crowd at a youth game in Germany once for my height.
"It's always happened, I've always played above my age group, with bigger guys, but I love the challenge.
"With the physicality, I had to learn new tricks, learn to outsmart my opponent. It was good for me trying to outplay the older, bigger guys.
"It was scary at first but after a while I got used to it and getting kicked was just natural.
"I'm living most young people's dream. It's been a great journey so far.
"I'm playing for a huge club in England, starting some games. For anyone my age it is a real honour to play for such a big club."
Sterling has added his name to the scoresheet on two occasions this season, striking into the far corner at pace against Reading and converting a delicious lob at home to Sunderland.
Playing alongside 20-goal Luis Suarez and skipper Steven Gerrard has fired the forward's desire for goals, however, and he is determined to celebrate on a more consistent basis.
He added: "I want to score more goals and I'll do that by getting in the box more. I'm always learning how I can make that happen.
"My goal against Sunderland was a decent finish but I should have had more earlier on this season.
"It's always good to get goals, of course, but I've been unlucky a few times this season, hitting the post four or five times.
"When everyone comes to congratulate you, it's such a good feeling. I want more of it.
"I'm always learning from people like Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez.
"On the pitch, I couldn't ask for better people around me at Liverpool, like Gerrard and Suarez who have been there and done it.
"I take stuff from their game, from the way they are, and I try and take that on. Everyone is willing to lend an ear, to give you advice, guidance.
"You don't have to ask, the old boys are always down your neck and down your ears telling you how to get better. It's great to have them around."
Training and playing with professionals such as Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, who have seen most of what the game can throw at you, should be the ideal environment for Sterling to grow.
He certainly agrees: "I look around the dressing room and it makes me hungry.
"The older players haven't achieved what they have overnight. They have lived their whole life as a professional, many years always professional on and off the field.
"They have won Champions Leagues, other titles, and I want that.
"That is my main aim, to win trophies at this football club. I would never relax on what I have done so far. I try every day to build day by day. I want to be remembered for things I do on the pitch.
"I've learned so much from Brendan Rodgers, we have a good relationship. But I haven't changed my game so much.
"I just always try to play good football, the one- and two-touch stuff has always been in me and when I get in the final third, I want to take players on.
"That fits in well with what the manager wants.
"Just recently I have taken on a more professional life. I try to do more with my family, the right things.
"I can't do what every normal 18-year-old boy would want to do, like going out every weekend.
"But I know I have a good thing here - it's brilliant what is happening. I can't complain. And I want more of it."
Read the full article with Raheem in the Daily Mail>>
Author: @shawct Tagged:
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