Raheem Sterling Is A Brilliant Role Model We All Need To Learn From
In Friday night’s qualifier against Czech Republic, Raheem Sterling lifted his shirt to pay tribute to Damary Dawkins, a 13-year-old youth team player from Crystal Palace who sadly passed away with Leukaemia earlier this week.
For those who don’t know the background to this story; Sterling joined a campaign to find Dawkins a stem cell donor.
In November last year, the Manchester City winger decided to visit the youngster at the University College Hospital in London on his day off.
He played pool with Damary, met his family and brought a smile to those who needed it most.
Sterling’s attempts at cheering his friend up made a huge impact:
“He is the most excited we’ve ever seen him,” said Beverley De-Gale, the co-founder of African-Caribbean Leukaemia Trust.
“To have a Premier League champion here to help with the campaign is like Christmas come early for him.”
Four months after his visit, Dawkins sadly lost his battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, but the youngster did things in his short life that many will never experience.
And Raheem Sterling played a small but important part in his journey.
This act of kindness is just one example of Sterling’s often misunderstood nature, but there are many others.
Let me just reel off just a few:
He made a substantial donation to the Grenfell Tower fund in 2017:
“It is only a small step, but small steps lead to big changes if we all come together.” he told BBC Sport shortly after the fire.
“This is a deep and sad situation, one that’s close to my heart and hard to swallow. I would like to help in the best way I can.”
He is a crime ambassador for the Greater Manchester High Sheriff’s Police trust, stopping youngsters turning to crime by visiting local projects on a regular basis:
“The trust does some outstanding work in helping local people and local projects to fulfil their potential and I am delighted to be able to play my part in supporting and promoting their efforts,” he said.
“I am proud to have been offered the chance to represent the trust and to assist them in achieving their goals.”
Sterling also pays for schools to be built in Jamaica, and uses his spare time to partake in charity work in the community.
Not to mention the fact that puts his family first, surprising his sister with a house as a birthday present.
Despite these admirable efforts however, certain corners of the media feel it necessary to concentrate on the ‘negative’ aspect of his life.
Sterling has suffered an unfair amount of unnecessary backlash over the years but throughout all of the bad press and criticism, the 24-year-old has consistently shown maturity beyond his years.
Someone who has picked up on this is Gareth Southgate, a man who has consistently put his faith in the 24-year-old since taking over as England manager:
“I’m so impressed by his maturity and the way he has spoken out on important subjects,” he told the media earlier this week.
“It shows huge social conscience and he really is developing into an outstanding role model for people to follow.”
Sterling is certainly developing into someone who we can all learn from, and his difficult journey to the top is further inspiration.
Earlier this year he shared his remarkable journey to the top for The Players Tribune.
Sterling detailed how his father’s murder when he was just aged two shaped his entire life.
He spoke about how the building of Wembley Stadium and watching it from his back garden inspired him as a kid.
He also talks about how football proved to be his ultimate escape.
It allowed him to look after his family, something that he is forever grateful for and in this inspired piece, he mentions a certain situation that sums him up perfectly.
Do you remember when the media slated him for buying his mum a new house after a disappointing Euro 2016?
Sterling fired back in superb fashion, revealing that he used to get up at 5am as a youngster to help his mother clean toilets:
“You know, it’s sad that I even have to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway,” he said.
“There’s a perception in certain parts of the media that I love ‘bling.’ I love diamonds. I love to show off. I really don’t understand where that comes from.
“Especially when I bought my mum a house, it was unbelievable what some people were writing. I think it’s really sad that people do that. They hate what they don’t even know.
“If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum.”
Sterling finished his article with a message to those who grew up like he did:
“If you grew up the same way I grew up, don’t listen to what certain tabloids want to tell you,” he writes.
“They just want to steal your joy. They just want to pull you down. I’m telling you right now, England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.”
You may have a perception of this 24-year-old man based on tabloid headlines and gossip, but you will soon learn about the real Raheem Sterling if you dig a little deeper.
Southgate is right; he really is a role model, both on and off the pitch.