Raheem Sterling admits it feels awkward playing against Liverpool for Manchester City
Sterling joined City from the Reds in a high-profile £50m move in summer 2015, which attracted the ire of Liverpool fans who were disappointed to see their academy product join a rival.
The England international has since vindicated that decision with back-to-back Premier League titles and an FA Cup triumph in 2018/19, however, and improved dramatically under the watchful eye of Pep Guardiola.
Sterling has already scored 13 goals in 15 appearances for club and country this season, although Manchester City are eight points behind Liverpool at the top of the league after a ferocious start from his old club.
The 24-year-old was respectful when asked about Liverpool in the Autumn issue of FourFourTwo, out on Tuesday, October 22 – and said that facing the Anfield outfit evokes memories of growing up with them. Is it ever odd facing them, though?
“Yeah, because it was a club that gave me a football career,” he told FFT.
“They invested a lot of time and money in me, so every time I go there or play them, I get flashbacks - not just of playing for the first team, but putting on the shirt for the first time in my first under-18s derby against Everton; things like that.”
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Sterling also added that the acclimatisation to a new club, alongside the pressure of being the most expensive Englishman of all time at that point, meant his first few months as a Manchester City player were challenging.
"It was more difficult than I expected,'' he admitted. "You’re in a new bubble and you’re adapting to things, which can be a lot for a 20-year-old.
"People were giving me the worst criticism you can ever think of. It was hard to take, because you’re young and you don’t understand why.
"Six months before that, they were giving me a lot of praise - all of a sudden it was ‘he’s not good enough’.”
Sterling has since gone on to prove his doubters wrong, playing a pivotal role in Guardiola’s all-conquering team over the last two seasons.
August brought a particularly special moment for the England winger - his first goal against Liverpool in the summer’s Community Shield at Wembley, at the 11th time of asking.
"I was really happy to score my first goal against them," Sterling said.
"Having not scored against them for so long, I need to try and make up for lost time now.
"When people keep reminding you that you haven’t scored, and then the first one goes in, the next time you’re a lot more confident.”
Read the full interview with Raheem Sterling in the Autumn 2019 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out in shops and available digitally from next week (October 22). We also head to the Arctic Circle, meet Lazio’s ultras, discover how to make Real Madrid and Barcelona great again, get our chat on with John Barnes and much, much more. You don’t want to miss it!
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