It always feels great for a 17 year old to wake up in the morning and get a call from the manager that he has been selected for the national squad. Liverpool's starlet Raheem Sterling must have felt something very similar. Sterling was signed in February 2010 by Rafael Benitez for an initial fee of £600,000, which could rise to £5 million depending on the number of appearances he makes for the first-team. Even at the the tender age of 15, he was tipped for glory and greatness. On 24 March 2012, Sterling made his senior Liverpool debut as a substitute in a league match against Wigan Athletic aged 17 years and 107 days, becoming the second-youngest player ever to play for the club. He made his European debut for Liverpool against FC Gomel in the third qualifying round, coming on as a substitute for Joe Cole and was the man of the match. Playing in a Liverpool side boasting the like of Suarez, Gerrard, Reina and getting the man of the match award is no mean feat , not all 17 year olds can do that. His first senior goal for Liverpool came in a friendly against Bayer Leverkusen, he cut inside from the left and curled the ball into the bottom right corner; a gem of a goal. He started against a Manchester City side having players like Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure who have tons and tons of experience. He is Liverpool's most exciting young talent. The crowd goes into delirium the moment the ball comes to his feet. His trickery and dribbling is second to none. He is really the man to watch out for in the future.
He was recently selected by Roy Hodgson to represent England's senior squad in England's World Cup qualifying campaign. This happened after Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers convinced England's under 21 manager Stuart Pearce to not pick him in the under 21 category and allow him to progress playing in the under 19 category. Stuart Pearce gave in to Rodgers' arguments. So it is a bit weird that he gets selected in the senior squad directly from the under 19 category. It speaks volumes of the player's skill and talent, but it could be too much too early for a 17 year old kid. Hodgson may not start him, but it is still a huge decision to select him in the squad. The expectations to excel may weigh too much on the shoulders of a 17 year old. It could make or break him. That is the reason Rodgers wanted him to progress gradually and take every step as it comes. When too much fame goes into the head of a young player, he may get distracted and may start enjoying it so much that he forgets what made him famous. He must be allowed to mature and improve different areas of his game before being thrown into the national squad. He surely needs more experience to play in a World Cup qualifying match. So, I guess his selection is a bit premature.
On the other hand, training with his national team members could be a huge learning curve for the youngster. He can learn a lot from the likes of Gerrard, Lampard, Terry and the other senior members. He can watch and learn how these players prepare mentally before a huge match. It could make him a much better player. If he keeps his feet firmly on the ground and concentrates on his game, he could be the next superstar, both for England and Liverpool.