Raheem Sterling admits he wanted to join Arsenal when he was 10 or 11, calling the Gunners the ‘biggest club in London’, but his mum convinced him otherwise.
Speaking in The Players’ Tribune, Sterling revealed that Arsenal scouted him as a young player, and he was very excited about the prospect of joining the club. However, his mum convinced him not to do so, in the end.
“When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he said. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’
“But my Mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day, and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal.’
“I said, ‘Ehhhh?’
“She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up.’
“She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made.”
It’s hard to argue Sterling made the wrong choice, given the way his career progressed. He made enough of a name for himself at QPR to get a move to Liverpool, and a path into the first team at Anfield. Then he got his move to Manchester City, and trophies followed.
In amongst all that, he also got into the England team, and is now a starter at the World Cup in Russia this summer.
Maybe it all would’ve gone exactly the same if he’d joined Arsenal instead. It’s hard to know that for sure though, as so many talented players come through the academy, and not all of them get the chances they need to progress. Clearly Sterling’s mum was well aware of that.