London, March 25 (IANS) Stating that English football has had only one golden generation so far, Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling has asked the fans and media not to have unrealistic expectations from the England squad at Euro 2016.
Successive generations of England squads have choked under the pressure of expectations and intense scrutiny from the media and fans with the World Cup winning team of 1966 a notable expectation.
Sterling, who is currently recovering from a groin injury, pointed out that the current England squad has several promising talents, but warned that too much hype may affect their performance at the Euro Cup in France this June.
“We’ve got a lot of young players who are doing well, but we are still developing as a squad, and calling us a golden generation would be wrong. The potential is there, but I don’t see the point of putting extra pressure on players by building them up into something they aren’t,” Sterling was quoted as saying by the Mirror.
“Expectations become unrealistic. And, if they aren’t successful, it is somehow turned into how they have let the country down.”
England boast of several exceptional strikers and mid-fielders, including Leicester City centre-forward Jamie Vardy and Manchester United veteran Wayne Rooney. Sterling however, asserted that the players will have to prove themselves in big tournaments before they can be rightfully branded as the golden generation.
“The golden generation label sounds good. But the only golden generation England have ever had was the team that actually won the World Cup. They were winners,” the 21-year-old said.
Sterling believes that the England players learned some valuable lessons from their campaign at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil where the team finished last in their group and they are determined to do well in France.
“We know we came home from Brazil too early, but we have got players who want to express themselves and play in a positive way. It’s the small details that we have got to get right at the Euros because it’s the little things that usually make a massive difference in games at the highest level,” the former Liverpool star said.
“Now we are going out there to do our best and to get to the next level. Ask any player in the squad what they want to achieve in the Euros and they will tell you we are going there to win it. Everyone should have dreams and we don’t want to go there just to make up the numbers,” he added.
“Our first job is to get out of the group. It won’t be easy, but if we can do that then it becomes knock-out football and then anything becomes possible.”