Raheem Sterling: The footballer of the season in all ramifications
Football is not life and death. Not even close. It’s not a do or die event, no matter what said Bill Shankly said. In the end, it’s just football – the beautiful game that’s currently trying to ruin itself by putting on way too much make up. Football is not quite like a war.
And thank goodness for that, because if it was, then Raheem Sterling would have been stabbed in delicate and left on the battle field. But he would have risen up, dusted himself, and continued to fight. That’s an equivalent of the Manchester City man in this game. He’s faced prejudice in the game, not least from the media. Mostly from the media, in fact.
Since his playing career got into the limelight, Sterling has been convicted by the supposed gatekeepers of society. He’s been guilty of being tired, going on holiday, shopping, driving a car, having breakfast, building a house for his mum, and a host of other crimes. But that hasn’t got to him, because he hasn’t let it, as he keeps plugging away and doing his thing.
And his brilliant form has been recognised with awards this season. First, was the PFA Young Player of the Year award, one Sterling remains eligible to receive, which is rather weird, given he’s been playing in the Premier League since 2012. But he also got the Football Writers award for the main category, honoured by those who have not put in the best light – to put it mildly – in the past.
Since the start of last season, Sterling has been in remarkable form. The English forward has been directly involved in 56 league goals since August 2017 (35 scored, 21 assists), helping City to 100-point league title, with some crucial late goals along the way. This season he’s been particularly pivotal to City’s hopes, arguably their best player, with 23 goals (17 in the league) and 14 assists. He’s also in very good form with the national team as well, with five goals in four games, after none in over a year.
Sterling’s contributions of the pitch have also been immense. From trying to seek funding to help youth player Damary Dawkins battle an ailment, to covering the cost of the funeral when the 13 year-old tragically passed away. Also, providing tickets for hundreds of fans ahead of City’s FA Cup semi-final against Brighton. And let’s not forget his continuous stance against racism.
Yet, Sterling deserves his accolades on the basis of his work on the pitch alone. His form this season merits all the praise. But, why shouldn’t we measure his contributions off the pitch when talking about his accolades? Why should we focus solely on what he does with the football, and not talk about what he does in football?
Yes, football should stand in isolation at times, but isn’t it really a product, representation and a microcosm of the larger society? Isn’t that why we point out that stadium bans and fines do nothing to fix racism? As such, Sterling should be recognised for his acts on and off the pitch, even in terms of getting awards.
In an era when football seems to increasingly lose its soul, Sterling stands out as a beacon. He’s been painted in dark colours for a while, but his spark burns bright.
Kunle Ajao63 Posts
Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not