Raheem Sterling has vowed to be an outspoken leader at Chelsea after returning to his hometown of London as a “grown adult”.
The 27-year-old is back in London for the first time in more than 10 years after extremely successful stints with Liverpool and Manchester City.
Sterling revealed his £47.5million move to Chelsea revolved around his refusal to accept limited playing time at Manchester City, which was nearing the peak of his career.
The England striker with 77 caps also showed Thomas Tuchel’s praise for his direct attacking threat. The Chelsea manager was delighted to see Sterling drive forward for the Blues with the ball at his feet.
“I’m excited, I grew up a little bit off the field,” Sterling said. “I feel like my whole journey, to Liverpool, Manchester, playing at City and living the dream – now I’m coming back to London as a grown adult.
“I’ve been in football for a while now, I have my head on my shoulders and I know exactly what I want from life and football. So it’s the perfect time to come back.
“There is a developing side of me in the dressing room and at the football club that I would like to see a lot more and that is being more involved in decisions in the dressing room, being louder and trying to drive at the team .
“I think he (Tuchel) said to me, it’s my directness to always threaten from behind, not always wanting to get in my feet and go in from behind.
“But the most important thing is how I attack the box and with the full-backs we have here, he said that’s the only thing he wants to see a lot more, so that was the conversation there.”
Sterling was born in Jamaica but grew up in London before making a name for himself, embarking on a top-level career first with Liverpool and then City.
The speedy striker returns to London with four Premier League titles under his belt, with new Chelsea owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital eyeing him as their main target at the start of the summer.
“The move came about, like anything you want to achieve as a person, and I just felt like my time at City was limited to playing time for a variety of reasons,” Sterling said.
“I couldn’t afford to waste that time. So I had to keep the same level and a new challenge.
“I’ve been a regular starter since I was 17, so I wouldn’t accept it if I get to the peak of my career and don’t play regularly.
“My personality is to fight and change the scenario but it didn’t happen and that’s it.
“This was the option tailored to my personal goals, as well as my family and the direction the club is moving.
“It’s a team that competes and keeps getting better. With the new owner it made a lot of sense too. It was obviously tough with the time I spent at City and there are a lot of memories and top moments.
“But the year and a bit of being on and off the team has taught me a lot about myself, made me appreciate a lot of things and I’ve tried to make things right.
“It was a difficult decision, but you have to make the decision that’s best for you. It feels like coming home, coming back to London; It’s been a long time since I’ve been gone, like 14 or 15.”
Chelsea banned one fan for life and five others temporarily for racially abusing Sterling at Stamford Bridge in his Manchester City days in 2019.
However, the new Chelsea recruit insisted the incident hadn’t even crossed his mind when deciding to join the Blues.
When questioned about this 2019 abuse, Sterling added, “This is the first time I’ve even remembered it. It wasn’t anything that crossed my mind, I can’t allow abuse of individuals to affect my perception of a club.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/raheem-sterling-london-liverpool-manchester-city-todd-boehly-b2143082.html Raheem Sterling wants to be a leader in returning to London as a ‘grown up adult’