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Sterling’s World Cup dream inked in the stars

AFP | Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO - The tattoo on England forward Raheem Sterling's left forearm suggests that he may have been predestined to play the role he has been thrust into at the World Cup.

Depicting a boy in a number 10 shirt clutching a football and looking up at the arch of Wembley Stadium, it represents both the past and the thrilling future that the 19-year-old Liverpool winger now embodies.

Jamaica-born Sterling grew up a short walk from the English national stadium in northwest London and the tattoo symbolises the childhood dreams he once harboured that are now coming true beneath the Brazilian sun.

"I grew up five minutes from the stadium," Sterling told newspaper journalists at England's Rio de Janeiro training base on Tuesday.

"I used to ride my bike round this little car park that was by the stadium.

"I used to say to myself, 'One day, I'd like to play there. Hopefully I could do that,' and I am really grateful to be given that opportunity.

"I know there have been some great players who have played for this country, so for me to be selected in the national team was a great achievement for me." The figure on the boy's back has taken on added relevance in the wake of Sterling's World Cup debut in the 2-1 loss to Italy on Saturday, when he was selected at number 10 and Wayne Rooney was exiled to the left flank.

The effervescence of Sterling's display suggested that Rooney may struggle to get his preferred position back, but the teenager says that he will readily step aside if manager Roy Hodgson elects to restore the Manchester United striker to a central role against Uruguay on Thursday.

"I would be happy to play anywhere the manager puts me," Sterling said.

"I am a team player. I will be working for the team regardless of which position I play in.

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