Gareth Southgate has backed Raheem Sterling to one day replace Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s best footballer.
Sterling underlined his outstanding talent with a breathtaking first-half display for England in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Kosovo, scoring his eighth international goal in as many matches and assisting three others.
The 24-year-old’s performance was the latest in a number of match-winning contributions for club and country over the past three years.
With Messi, 32, and Ronaldo, 34, entering the twilight of their careers, the race to replace them as the world’s No1 player is hotting up.
England boss Southgate believes Sterling has the capacity to do it. He said: “He’ll give himself every chance. There are obviously some outstanding players around, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Messi and Ronaldo. But he’s got the drive, he’s got the professionalism, he’s got the ability. He’s physically and mentally strong for such a small-statured lad.”