Raheem Sterling No Longer 'All About Looking Nice,' Wants England Goals

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 15, 2018

SEVILLE, SPAIN - OCTOBER 14: Raheem Sterling of England looks on during an England training session ahead of their UEFA Nations League match against Spain at Estadio Benito Villamarin on October 14, 2018 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)
Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Raheem Sterling says he wants to make more decisive contributions when playing for England and bring an end to his lengthy goal drought. 

Per Dominic King of the Daily Mail, if Sterling scores for the Three Lions against Spain on Monday it will be his first goal for them in 1,102 days.

The forward admitted goals weren't much of a concern for him in his youth, but that's no longer the case:

"The main thing now is to keep trying to be a goal threat. When I was a bit younger, I wasn't too interested in scoring goals. I was all about looking nice on the ball or trying to show people I have got a lot of ability.

"But now I've started to realise that no one remembers the nice stuff you do on the pitch—it's about the effectiveness and what you do for your team. As I'm growing and developing, I understand that I need to keep that going, especially with the national team because I need to get these goals going."

Sterling said he is "much more confident when I'm in and around the penalty area now" and added:

"I think I'm probably more driven now, more driven to be able to get on the end of things, being in the box a lot more whereas before I was going wide, trying to beat a player, and now I'm trying to get on the end of stuff, being around for scraps and trying to make goals for myself."

The Manchester City star has scored just two goals in his 45 appearances for England, the most recent of which came on October 9, 2015 against Estonia.

As King noted, there is a marked contrast between how he has fared for club and country in that time.

For England, he has gone 27 matches without finding the net for a total of 1,810 minutes. He has had 34 shots at goal in that time—which is the same as the number of goals he's scored for City over the same period—but hit the target on just four occasions.

For City, he's a key player and an incisive contributor:

Sterling was substituted in Friday's 0-0 draw with Croatia after another unsuccessful night in front of goal, though it was Marcus Rashford who was twice guilty of failing to convert when put through one-on-one with Dominik Livakovic.

England boss Gareth Southgate believes Sterling can and will end his goal drought, though, per The Times' Henry Winter:

As his club form shows, Sterling is hardly lacking when it comes to the ability to make decisive, match-winning contributions in football matches.

The 23-year-old needs to translate the confidence in front of goal he has developed at club level onto the international stage, and if he can do that England will be a much more potent team as a result.

The drought presents a sizeable hurdle for him to overcome, but if he can bring it to an end—particularly against a team of Spain's calibre—that could be enough to restore his confidence for the Three Lions.

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