World Cup 2014

World Cup dream inked in the stars

Raheem Sterling's tattoo of a boy in a No 10 shirt suggests he had a date with destiny for England

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 10:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 1:10am

The tattoo on England forward Raheem Sterling's left forearm suggests he may have been predestined to play the role he has been thrust into at the World Cup.

Depicting a boy in a No 10 shirt clutching a football and looking up at the arch of Wembley Stadium, it represents both the past and the thrilling future that the 19-year-old Liverpool winger now embodies.

Jamaica-born Sterling grew up a short walk from the English national stadium in northwest London and the tattoo symbolises the childhood dreams he once harboured that are now coming true beneath the Brazilian sun.

"I grew up five minutes from the stadium," Sterling said on the eve of England's must-win clash with Uruguay.

"I used to say to myself, 'One day, I'd like to play there. Hopefully I could do that', and I am really grateful to be given that opportunity.

"I know there have been some great players who have played for this country, so for me to be selected in the national team was a great achievement."

The figure on the boy's back has taken on added relevance in the wake of Sterling's World Cup debut in the 2-1 loss to Italy, when he was selected at No 10 and Wayne Rooney was exiled to the left flank.

The effervescence of Sterling's display suggested Rooney may struggle to get his preferred position back, but the teenager says that he will readily step aside if manager Roy Hodgson elects to restore the Manchester United striker to a central role against Uruguay.

"I would be happy to play anywhere the manager puts me," Sterling said. "I will be working for the team regardless of which position I play in."

Sterling was one of five Liverpool players in England's starting line-up in Manaus and there will be six on the pitch in Sao Paulo if Uruguay's Luis Suarez is declared fit to start following knee surgery.

Uruguay's 3-1 defeat by Costa Rica means the South American champions are also desperate for points. Sterling joked that it might be better for England if Suarez cannot play. "I'd rather not see him on the pitch, really," Sterling said with a smile.


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