England’s Raheem Sterling insists nothing less than winning the World Cup in Russia next month will be satisfactory despite the Three Lions’ failure to even progress to the later stages in recent tournaments.
Gareth Southgate’s men travel to their base in Repino, north-west of Saint Petersburg, next week looking to end 52 years without winning a major tournament since the 1966 World Cup.
Sterling was part of the England sides that crashed out at the group stages four years ago and in humiliating fashion to Iceland in the last 16 of Euro 2016.
But he rejected suggestions England should be happy with progress to the quarter-finals this time round.
“No, it won’t be good enough at all, because you want to win it,” he said at England’s pre-tournament media day.
“I’m not coming here to spend four, five, six weeks of my life to say ‘let’s see what happens and hopefully last 16’.”
England captain Harry Kane has also called on his team-mates to forget the negativity that has surrounded their predecessors at major tournaments.
And Sterling believes there is enough talent in a youthful squad to back up his bold ambitions.
“We’ve got 23 players here, 23 good players, very good players, and you know we all have the mentality to say that we’re going to win the games,” he added.
“Every player wants to win the World Cup, every country wants to win the World Cup so anything less than that is not really a bonus. Of course, you can take positives out of everything, but you won’t be entirely happy if you don’t win it, no.”
– Difficult week –
Sterling has endured a difficult week of media coverage over a tattoo of an M16 assault rifle on his leg.
The Manchester City winger explained the tattoo references the shooting of his father who was gunned down in Jamaica when the Manchester City winger was just two years of age.
Adding to Sterling’s woes, he was forced to apologise to his team-mates after turning up to England’s training camp a day late following a flight mix-up on his way back from holiday and was then booked for diving in Saturday’s 2-1 friendly win over Nigeria.
However, Sterling has been publicly backed by his manager Gareth Southgate and been handed the number 10 shirt for the World Cup.
And despite the negative publicity surrounding his tattoos, Sterling revealed he’s had a tattoo of the number 10 on his arm for some time such has been his desire to wear that number for his country.
“I know I shouldn’t mention it but I’ve got a tattoo of it on my arm,” he added. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do: wear the number 10 for England.
“It’s something from my childhood. My two favourite numbers are seven and 10, from playing at Queen’s Park Rangers in the midfield area. I feel much more happy wearing that shirt and to be doing that at a World Cup with my country gives me that huge joy and feeling I can go and do well.”