• Premier League

Sterling needed psychological spur

ESPN staff
April 30, 2014
Raheem Sterling has been described as "arguably the best young player in Europe" by his manager Brendan Rodgers © Getty Images

Raheem Sterling has revealed the psychologist hired by Brendan Rodgers spurred him on to rediscover his Liverpool form.

Sterling said working with Dr Steve Peters, who has also been recruited by Roy Hodgson to help England, helped revive his attacking style of play and put him in the frame for a place in the World Cup squad.

"The way he works is brilliant. At first I thought it wasn't for me. On the outside you might think it's complicated but all the messages are very straightforward," Sterling told the Liverpool Echo.

"Maybe on the outside people had the impression I've always been really confident. But after a good start [to the season] I started looking for easy options rather than taking a chance myself, beating a man, taking a shot on myself.

"I'd stopped being natural, all the things that I'd done which got me into the first team in the first place."

Sterling broke into the Liverpool first-team towards the end of last season but fell out of favour in October following a dip in form. The 19-year-old admitted he lost confidence in his game and looked to Peters, whose work aided the impressive form of Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson, for guidance.

"My goal was always to play for Liverpool when I first came here and maybe for a while I thought that goal was achieved because I was one of the lucky ones to do it," Sterling said. "But you realise that is not enough. There always has to be the next challenge, to achieve things and win things - making your mark.

"From December time I realised I had to start stamping my personality, running with the ball, running into the box, making goals, scoring goals. Not playing with that barrier, not to be worried about making mistakes.

"He understands the players and the emotional side of the game. What he says really helps you."

Since December, Sterling has scored nine Premier League goals and earned the praise of his manager Rodgers, who argued he was "the best young player in Europe."

One of those goals came in the important victory against title rivals Manchester City at Anfield earlier this month; Sterling believes that particular strike expresses how Peters' work changed his mentality for the better.

"You could look at the [Manchester] City goal as an example. I'm not trying to sound cheeky or over confident but three or four months ago I would have squared rather than take the responsibility all for myself.

"We use a motto 'focus on the ball, focus on the team'. I had a meeting with him [Peters] before the City game. I thought it was going to last 20-25 minutes. So I walked in, sat down and he just said: 'focus on the ball, focus on the team'. 'Is that it?' I asked him but it was really important."

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