Raheem Sterling acknowledges he cannot be compared to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo until he has performed at the highest level for a number of seasons, but that is his aim.
The Manchester City forward was in irrepressible form in England’s 5-3 win against Kosovo on Tuesday, scoring an early equaliser and then laying on three assists in a stunning first-half display.
Sterling’s performance continued an outstanding start to the new season, with eight goals to his name for club and country already.
The 24-year-old scored 35 times in the Premier League across the previous two campaigns, but he concedes he is still some way short of the standard set by all-time greats Messi and Ronaldo.
“The most remarkable thing about these players is not that they’ve been doing it for two or three seasons,” said Sterling. “They’ve been doing it for pretty much their whole career, season after season.
“This is my third season at a high level, I would say, and I just have to keep continuing. I have full belief in myself.
— Raheem Sterling (@sterling7) September 11, 2019
“I have goals and they’ve been goals of mine since I was a child, and I’ll keep thriving and keep learning and try to get all the way to the top, for sure.”
Sterling had scored just twice for his country prior to visiting Spain last October but doubled his international tally with a brace in that away win and now has 10 goals in England colours.
“When I first put on the England shirt, I wasn’t looking at my stats too much,” he said. “It wasn’t until I saw how bad they were I put extra pressure on myself to score.
“But I said to myself that once my first goal goes in, I know that the goals will come after that. That’s all I was waiting for.
“That night in Spain when I scored two, from then I knew I’d kick on and keep scoring goals.”