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Dirty Tackle

Everything you need to know about Raheem Sterling, 'the best young player in European football'

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle
Liverpool, Sterling top this week's AP soccer poll
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(AP Photo/PA, Chris Radburn)

Raheem Sterling scored twice in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich, keeping them in control of the Premier League title race. After the match, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had high praise for the 19-year-old winger, saying, “He is the best young player in European football at the moment. At 19 years of age you don’t see anyone better. His intelligence with the ball, his movement and he’s scoring goals." And with performances like this when Liverpool need them most, Sterling is forcing himself into consideration for a World Cup spot. So here is all the information you need to know about him.

-He was born in Jamaica and emigrated to England at the age of five (with his mother — he wasn't just an adventures five-year-old).

-At the age of 15, a combination of scouting reports, a recommendation from former Liverpool academy director Frank McParland and an appearance on the Skills Skool segment of Sky Sports' Soccer AM helped then manager Rafa Benitez convince the club to buy Sterling from QPR. Sterling lost his Skill Skool competition by split decision to Christian Nanetti, who now plays for sixth-division club Havant & Waterlooville.

-Sterling made his first team debut for Liverpool in March 2012 at the age of 1 7 years and 107 days old, making him the club's third youngest player ever.

-Standing 5'7", his speed and agility the first things people notice, but he combines that with intelligence on the pitch, plus strength and stamina that even surprised Liverpool when he first arrived at the club.

-In the six-part television miniseries documenting the start of Liverpool's 2012/13 season, one of the most publicized moments was when Brendan Rodgers scolded him during a training session for what he thought was backtalk from Sterling, who later credited this moment as being the start of Rodgers helping him "massively" both on and off the pitch.

-Sterling was also the subject of then teammate Joe Cole's prop comedy involving a children's car seat.

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(Being: Liverpool)

-He made his England debut in November 2012, starting in a friendly against Sweden (in which Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his Puskas award winning goal). He didn't earn his second cap until March of this year, winning the Man of the Match award after a 1-0 win over Denmark. 

-In his first full season, he scored twice in 36 appearances across all competitions. So far this season, he's scored 10 times in 34 appearances. And this is after recovering from a regrettable hairdo during preseason.

-Since he's already doing this well and winning praise at 19 years old, the unmatchable expectations and scrutiny placed upon him will likely lead to a backlash of harsh criticism and cruel jokes when he's 20, followed by a career resurgence with the press and public once again backing him around the age of 21 or 22.

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Brooks Peck is the editor of Dirty Tackle on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow on Twitter!

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