Raheem Sterling's most iconic moments for Liverpool, Manchester City and England

Raheem Sterling is really proving his worth to England at Euro 2020, although it should surprise no one given the career he is enjoying.

Raheem Sterling had already been afforded hero status for England at Euro 2020 after scoring the winner in their opener against Croatia.

Kalvin Phillips played a delightful ball to set Sterling up and in doing so, guided England to their first victory in an opening game at the Euros in 10 attempts.

Sterling then repeated the trick in England's final group game against Czech Republic, this time heading in a sumptuous Jack Grealish cross to confirm the Three Lions as group winners.

From his emergence in the Premier League with Liverpool, to a trophy-laden move to Manchester City, Planet Sport celebrates an already iconic career for the Wembley hero.

The new kid on the block

Sterling made his Liverpool debut at just 17 years and 107 days, making him the club's third-youngest player in history. It came just two years after he had made the move from Queens Park Rangers' academy.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish turned to Sterling as the Reds were just minutes away from an embarrassing 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Wigan Athletic.

Cameo substitute appearances came in the final months of the season as Liverpool dwindled towards an eighth-placed finish, but the following years would see Sterling become a beacon of hope in the club's resurgence.

Liverpool's lift-off

Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate a key goal in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Manchester City in April 2014
Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate a key goal in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Manchester City in April 2014

Merseyside's new wing wizard would become paramount to the team's attacking play by the 2012/13 campaign, and Sterling had already played 72 games with the Reds before turning 20 in December 2014.

His rise to acclaim wasn't totally his own though, as he was commonly known as part of Liverpool's SSS - a deadly attacking trio combining Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suarez, and Sterling himself. Such pace and attacking intelligence in Brendan Rodgers' side came to fruition in 2014 as they scored 101 goals over the season and narrowly missed out on the league title.

Perhaps one of the most iconic games from Liverpool's perspective was a 3-2 home win against eventual champions Manchester City in April. Sterling scored an iconic second as Liverpool stormed to an early 2-0 lead, casually sitting Joe Hart on the floor before he rolled the ball into an empty net.

Bedlam followed in the stands and Sterling was a hero, treated like one of their own.

The ghost goal

England's 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign proved to be a disaster as the Three Lions exited the tournament at the group stage without a victory. Nevertheless, it would mark a defining moment in Sterling's career with only his second ever start for his country in the opening game against Italy.

READ MORE: Harry Kane's iconic Tottenham Hotspur and England moments

Just four minutes into his major tournament debut, the 19-year-old carried the ball from near the half-way line before unleashing a venomous shot towards the top corner. The net rippled but unfortunately for England it had hit the side netting.

The magical nature of the strike deserved a goal, but it caught many out, including broadcasters who registered it as a goal on their scoreboards - it was one of the greatest World Cup goals that never was.

One thing that the nation could take from that humid night in Manaus was a positive performance from Sterling to announce himself to a global audience.

The 'Golden Boy' switching colours

Sterling made a big move to Liverpool's title rivals Man City in 2015
Sterling made a big move to Liverpool's title rivals Man City in 2015

At just 20 years old, Sterling was already a media sensation - yet a susceptible target for abuse - and his transfer to Manchester City from Liverpool in the summer of 2015 still leaves an extremely sour taste on the Red side of the Mersey.

Building for a future of sustained success at the top, Man City forked out £49million for his services and they were hoping he could be the club's Golden Boy.

Such a title was already officially adorning Sterling's name after he won the prestigious 'Golden Boy' award in 2014 - an award given out every year since 2003 to celebrate the most impressive youngsters in world soccer in each calendar year.

Wembley wonder

Raheem Sterling saw first-hand the sheer scale of England's soccer heritage as he grew up in the Wembley area of London.

This is famously where the national team play and between 2000 and 2007 a young Sterling would see a spectacular new 90,000-seater stadium come to life in front of his very eyes.

Such an image is brought to life on his arm in tattoo form, where he overlooks the famous Wembley arch with a soccer ball in hand - little did he know that he'd go on to play at the famous stadium a lot more than most.

Four League Cups wins and two Community Shield triumphs have come at Wembley Stadium, though perhaps the one trophy held most dearly is Sterling's sole FA Cup triumph to date.

It's every boy's dream to score an FA Cup final goal, so do it in your own backyard as Sterling did twice in the 6-0 thrashing of Watford in May 2019, was extra special.

Standing up to hate

Sterling and Harry Kane celebrate during a game marred with racist incidents in Bulgaria
Sterling and Harry Kane celebrate during a game marred with racist incidents in Bulgaria

Not one moment can define Raheem Sterling's impact on soccer in terms of matters both on the pitch and off the pitch, but there have been numerous occasions in the last few years where he has stood up for what he believes in and has gone about making change for the better.

As a black man he has suffered violation and racist remarks of a disgusting nature, whether this through social media or by fans in the stands.

Perhaps the most astounding incident came in England's Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria in October 2019, where a number of the squad were targeted for racist abuse by the home supporters.

England responded well, not by walking off the field, but by completing an inspired performance which led to a 6-0 victory where Sterling stood up against adversity once more and scored twice.

Centurion

Raheem Sterling celebrates his 100th Manchester City goal, after scoring against Real Madrid in the Champions League
Raheem Sterling celebrates his 100th Manchester City goal, after scoring against Real Madrid in the Champions League

Sterling will always be remembered as being an integral part of Pep Guardiola's 2017/18 Premier League-winning side - the first team in England's top flight to reach 100 points. But that's not the only century Sterling can boast for the club.

A delay to last season's finish due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant Man City had to wait till August to return to Champions League action in the last-16 stage.

The winger opened the scoring against Real Madrid after nine minutes, recording his 100th goal for the club five years after he joined.

It's a feat that will be fondly recognised in the blue half of Manchester, as Sterling became the first Englishman to achieve such numbers since Dennis Tueart in 1981.

Stepping up at Euro 2020

Sterling went into Euro 2020 without a huge amount of form despite helping Manchester City to the Premier League title just weeks before.

Gareth Southgate made it clear that Sterling was his man, however, keeping faith with him in the opening match against Croatia.

Sterling duly delivered too, scoring the only goal as the Three Lions started with a win.

His good form did not end there either, with Sterling also scoring the winner in the final group game, which saw England beat Czech Republic 1-0 at Wembley.

That goal gave him a slice of history too, with Sterling becoming the first England player to score their first two goals in a major tournament since Alan Shearer did it at Euro 96.

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