Eleven years ago, two of Liverpool’s finest prodigies attracted the interest of Real Madrid. One made the move to the Spanish capital, and one proved his loyalty to the Merseysiders.
In the end, one failed to score for England in a major international tournament again while the other went on to captain the Three Lions twice in the last three World Cup.
So, what can Sterling learn from this anecdote? Certainly all that glitters is not gold, the young Liverpool does not have to look far to find a contemporary example. Gareth Bale left Tottenham at the peak of his powers to join Real Madrid.
The Welsh winger has gone on to score in every final that Madrid has competed in, including a winner against their hated rivals, Barcelona. Yet, Bale has found it hard to be accepted in the hearts of many Madridistas.
While Raheem Sterling is acknowledged as the shining light of hope for both Liverpool and England, he has flickered on and off so far this season. His recent interview with the BBC demonstrated that his head has been turned by the interest of other parties, including Liverpool’s top four rival, Arsenal.
Publicly acknowledging flattery of the interest has not gone down well. Even more worrying was his performance.
Rebuffing an offer to take a massive pay raise is not a problem in itself — fans of Liverpool do share some sympathy with Sterling’s demands. However, it is the way that Sterling and mainly his agent, Aidy Ward, has gone about it that rubs fans the wrong way.
Presuming the haggles over the contract negotiations is mainly about lofty ambitions, it is noteworthy that past players, such as Michael Owen and Fernando Torres, once left Liverpool for greener pastures. The career of Michael Owen should, perhaps, be a better advisory for young Sterling.
Owen left Liverpool in 2004 to pursue his Champions League ambitions as Liverpool, at the time, struggled to qualify — yet alone compete — for the Big Ears.
While Owen had a mediocre time coming off the bench and scoring here and there, Liverpool made a remarkable journey to win the European Cup for the first time in 20 years.
Sterling, so early in his career, should be focusing on become a better player rather than worrying whether or not Liverpool can match his ambitions.
Owen was quickly shifted out to Newcastle and replaced with Robinson, and so on. Raheem Sterling should now take heed with lofty ambitions that might hamper his career.
[Photo by Laurence Griffiths, Carlos Alvarez and Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images]