Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Raheem Sterling reflects on past ‘dread’ of international duty with England

Raheem Sterling can empathise with the situation Gareth Southgate is experiencing (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Raheem Sterling can empathise with the situation Gareth Southgate is experiencing (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Raheem Sterling is in the unique position of being able to empathise with Gareth Southgate after the England manager was jeered by his own fans, recalling a time he “dreaded” international duty having suffered similar treatment.

Southgate has come under increasing pressure after defeat to Italy on Friday not only confirmed Nations League relegation but extended England’s competitive winless streak to five competitive games; not in their history have they gone six matches without a victory.

Supporters turned on Southgate, who took England to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 and the Euro 2020 final last summer, as they slumped to a 4-0 mauling to Hungary at Molineux in June.

A number of England fans booed Raheem Sterling as he struggled for form at Euro 2016.
A number of England fans booed Raheem Sterling as he struggled for form at Euro 2016 (Nick Potts/PA)

The away fans then jeered Southgate on Friday night as he crossed the San Siro pitch to applaud them following the 1-0 defeat which sealed their relegation from League A, with Monday’s clash with Germany being England’s last game before the World Cup.

Sterling, the most-capped player among Southgate’s current 28-man squad, was also a target for the boo-boys during Euro 2016.

Asked about his own experiences, the Chelsea forward replied: “I remember coming with the national team there was a period that when I first came into the squad it was really enjoyable and there was a period where I actually dreaded coming.

“I think it was Spain away (in 2018), it was a moment when I scored. My mentality was okay, no matter good or bad, I needed to just focus on myself and not listen to what the outside world was saying.

“That’s definitely been something that’s put me in good stead. Not just here with the national team. But away from here in football as well. No matter doing good or bad, it’s to keep level-headed and focused and not listen to the noise.

“That’s a message that can definitely go with the squad here in the next couple of months. We know there will be noise and we really need to block it out if we are going to do well in this tournament.

“I don’t think any of the boys are panicking. We are taking responsibility, knowing results haven’t been right and that we need to fix that. I think we are very clear on that and I think tomorrow is a chance to put that right.”

Sterling has been a player Southgate has relied on throughout his tenure as England boss and, similarly, the manager has managed to get the best out of a player whose international career had largely stalled before his appointment.

Now 27, Sterling believes it is time for the players to step up and take the “unfair” pressure off the shoulders of a man who has taken them closer than anyone to a first major trophy since 1966.

Gareth Southgate has been on the end of criticism during England's last two games.
Gareth Southgate has been on the end of criticism during England’s last two games (Nick Potts/PA)

Asked what he made of the criticism of Southgate, he replied: “A lot of it has been unfair but that’s the level we are at with England.

“After the summer we came away and had a look at ourselves and none of us were proud, it is not for Gareth to shoulder the blame.

“The manager can play whatever he wants to play but when we go on to the pitch we have to have that mentality that we are not just on the pitch to be on the pitch but we have to have that winning mentality.

“That’s the message over the last couple of days when the boys have been speaking; it’s get more out of each other, push each other, take criticism.

“If someone is not doing something right then we have to push each other to try and get the best for the team.

“I don’t think it’s about fighting or doing anything silly like that. On the field, if there is something not right and somebody is not doing what they should be doing, I think that’s the level we are at.”