Rio Ferdinand demands people “start putting a bit more respect on Raheem Sterling’s name” after his heroics in England’s 2-0 win over Germany.
The Three Lions struck twice just as fear began to creep in about another major competition exit to Die Mannschaft on Tuesday, when the squad heeded their manager’s advice to make their own history.
Sterling and Harry Kane scored in the 2-0 last-16 win, with Football’s Coming Home echoing around Wembley at the end of England’s biggest match on home soil since Euro 96.
Manchester City winger Sterling put in a great perfomance as he took his tally for the tournament to three goals and Ferdinand thinks he could become a “national hero”.
“Please can we start putting a bit more respect on Raheem Sterling’s name now, please!” Ferdinand told BBC Sport.
“We said before the game, that this is an opportunity to become a national hero.
“He’s got three goals, he’s been the one in this tournament who we needed to lift us and get us over the line and get us a result. He’s the person we looked to.
“What a professional, hard worker, the courage is one of the things I love about him. He’s one of them players who has the ability to scare you.
“He’s hard to read, his trickery. At this stage of his career he’s producing the end product, he’s decisive and deciding games. I believe that this kid has been at that level (world class).”
It was England’s second ever European Championship knockout triumph, with attention now turning to Saturday’s meeting with Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine side in Rome.
“I think the players were immense,” England manager Gareth Southgate said. “Right the way through the team they were immense.
“They have given the fans in the stadium, who were also incredible (a great day). I’ve been here with a full house and not heard it anywhere near the levels that the crowd found today.
“But they were behind every challenge, they were behind every time we pressed the ball, they were behind every run we had and the energy was incredible in the stadium.
“So, to be able to send them home feeling as they do tonight, to hear them at the end … I mean, you can’t beat a bit of Sweet Caroline, can you? That’s a belter, really.
“But to know that so many millions of people after such a difficult year at home can have that enjoyment that I know we’d have given them today is very special.”
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