Raheem Sterling’s role as the leader of England’s young generation has won praise from former Liverpool forward Emile Heskey.
Sterling and England are back in action against the Czech Republic on Friday, with the formality of qualification for Euro 2020 on course to be confirmed during the current international break.
Gareth Southgate’s side boast a 100 per cent record in Group A – a Sterling hat-trick against this week’s opponents having set the wheels in motion at Wembley in March.
The Manchester City star has finally brought his prolific club form to the international arena, with six goals in the campaign so far.
Speaking to Omnisport about the leading lights in England’s current crop of youngsters, Heskey noted Sterling remains only 24 – something his prominent stance against racism and discrimination off the field belies.
“Sterling is still young, isn’t he? Even though he’s played for so long he’s still young,” he said.
“The role that he’s actually playing now, as a mentor for some of the kids, is amazing. The strides that he’s taken within his game is amazing.
“Now he’s on social media using that platform to help with the racism, with the bullying and it’s amazing.
“Someone who has taken on so much as a young kid, I don’t think I could have taken on that much as a young kid.
“What is he, 24 now? I don’t think I could have taken on that much at 24. It’s too much for me but he seems to have taken everything in stride, and given more.”
— England (@England) September 10, 2019
Heskey represented England at four major tournaments between 2000 and 2010 and, with the likes of Jadon Sancho revelling alongside Sterling and captain Harry Kane up front, he feels Southgate’s side might be able to go further than the so-called “golden generation” he was a part of alongside David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Michael Owen.
“I would like to think England could win the Euros,” he added. “They’ve got flair, they’ve got goals, defensively they just need to be a little bit more sound and sterner.
“But they’ve got the ability to go all the way.”