Raheem Sterling reaps rewards of working with England psychiatrist
Raheem Sterling is working with England team psychiatrist Steve Peters as he attempts to rebuild his confidence ahead of Euro 2016.
The most expensive English player in history – costing Manchester City £49 million when he signed from Liverpool last summer – said he welcomed the presence of Peters in the England camp after also working with him when he was at Anfield.
England are already feeling the benefit with Sterling markedly better, and more positive, in Friday’s 2-1 victory over Australia than in the 2-1 victory over Turkey at the Etihad the previous Sunday.
“Really, it has been about me getting in a positive mind-set with the staff here, Dr Steve Peters, and getting my mentality stronger,” Sterling revealed having lost his starting place at City to Jesús Navas and then with doubts – which he erased – as to whether he would be fit for the European Championship.
“He has definitely helped me,” Sterling added. “I have been seeing him here with the national team. Most of the boys do. He just gets it into your head that mentality is key and a strong part of it is blocking certain things out and focusing singularly on your football.
“I have been working on that. He was with us at Liverpool and since I moved to City I didn’t have a chance to work with him. So since I joined up with England I have started speaking to him, it is a real bonus for me.”
When he was at Liverpool Sterling paid glowing tribute to the work that Peters – who has been used by England manager Roy Hodgson periodically since just before the last World Cup – did with him and the benefit he felt.
Peters, a renowned sports psychiatrist who worked with the Team GB's cycling team at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and wrote The Chimp Paradox which explains how the human mind operates, helped to rebuild England’s confidence after the Brazil World Cup and is highly regarded by Hodgson.
City remain convinced that Sterling will prove an important signing and are enthused by the prospect of the forward, who is still only 21, working with Pep Guardiola. The incoming manager, like Hodgson, is understood to be a fan and may well have been consulted before his transfer was agreed.
However Sterling made only 23 Premier League starts during his first season at City, which ended in a disappointing campaign for the club despite reaching the Champions League semi-finals, while a groin injury suffered against Manchester United in March threatened to end his Euro hopes.
Despite starting only one match - City’s 4-2 away defeat by Southampton - following his return to fitness, Hodgson selected Sterling and has had no doubts about putting him in the final 23-man squad when it is confirmed on Tuedsay. Sterling has started both of England’s friendlies so far because the manager decided he needed more game time and to rediscover his rhythm after a stop-start season.
Sterling himself said he was taking nothing for granted with the squad deadline looming. “The competition for places is really fierce,” Sterling added. “There are loads of players with ability here so no one can take anything for granted. That is one thing I am not doing.”
One of those who is assured of his place in the final squad is Southampton’s Fraser Forster, now Joe Hart’s understudy following the injury to Jack Butland. Tom Heaton, of newly promoted Burnley, makes up the Uefa mandatory number of three goalkeepers.
Forster paid tribute to England’s No 1. “For me, he is a top keeper in Europe,” Forster said of Hart, Sterling’s club team-mate at City. “You look how good his distribution is, how good his shot-stopping is and how he makes big saves at big moments and we are lucky to have him.
“He’s obviously a fantastic keeper and I think he is showing year in, year out, for Man City and England how good he is. He works really hard and it is obviously important as a group of keepers that we pressure him and try to catch him up, but it has been fantastic how he has played in some of the Champions League games this year, making big saves at big moments.”