Can Raheem Sterling Become the Best UK Footballer of Jamaican Heritage Ever?
There have been a number of superstar footballers in the UK in the last few decades with Jamaican roots. Some were born on Jamrock itself, while others were born to parents who hailed from the Caribbean island. Raheem Sterling is one of the most notable players from the country currently in the game, and the Manchester City forward has the potential to become the greatest footballer with Jamaican heritage of all time.
Before making a name for himself as one of the most lethal attackers in the Premier League, Sterling had quite a journey. The England international was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1994, and when he was just two years old his father was murdered. At the age of five, Sterling moved to England with his mother and enrolled at Copland Community School in Wembley. It soon became apparent that the youngster had considerable footballing talent, and he signed for the Queens Park Rangers academy in 2003 at nine years old. He spent seven years learning his trade there before catching the eye of one of the biggest football clubs in the country, Liverpool.
In 2010, Rafa Benitez signed Sterling to the Liverpool academy for an initial fee of £600,000. Two years later, the speedy forward made his debut for the Reds in a top-flight match against Wigan Athletic. This made him the second-youngest player to play for the club at the time, behind Jack Robinson. From then on, Sterling continued to improve until he was snapped up by Manchester City in 2015 for a fee of around £44 million plus add-ons.
Under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, arguably the greatest manager in football, Sterling has taken his game to the next level. In 33 league appearances for the Citizens in 2017-18, Sterling scored an impressive 18 goals and registered 11 assists. He was a crucial component of the lethal attacking machine which took the division by storm and breezed to the title with a 19-point lead on the closest contenders, Manchester United.
It is clear that Guardiola has had a strong influence on Sterling, and the two-time Champions League winning manager should help the Jamaica-born player reach his full potential. Prior to last season, the winger had never scored over ten goals in a single campaign and seemed to lack confidence in front of goal. But now he’s proved that he can be prolific, Sterling will no doubt be a mainstay in City’s forward line. The Champions are expected to defend their crown, with Betway offering odds of 8/11 for them to win again as of the 24th of July. Sterling’s form for the Etihad-sponsored club will be crucial if they are to see off their other challengers again.
At only 23 years old, Sterling has his best years ahead of him. If he can continue to learn and grow under Guardiola, there is no telling how far he could go.
The Other Contenders
There are some other contenders for best UK footballer with Jamaican heritage, from past and present. Right now, Sterling has some fellow England teammates to compete against for the crown. Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all have Jamaican ancestry. Rose was even considering joining the Jamrock national team back in 2015 before he signed for Tottenham Hotspur. As it stands, Sterling is ahead of these players in terms of development. But they each play for top clubs and have the chance to become legends of the game.
The main man that Sterling needs to beat is John Barnes, who was also born in Kingston and operated in a similar position to the City man. Barnes was a Liverpool legend between 1987 and 1997, making 314 appearances and scoring 84 league goals for the Anfield club. He was a mainstay in the England team, as well, and earned 79 caps for the country. Barnes won two league titles, the FA Cup, and the League Cup. As it stands, the 54-year-old is the most successful Jamaica-born player the UK has seen, but Sterling could easily overtake him in a few years.
If Sterling can continue on this impressive upward trajectory with City and also find some goal-scoring form for the national team, he will become the greatest UK footballer of Jamaican descent of all time.