Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has said Raheem Sterling is one of the best players in the world ahead of his team’s game with Manchester City on Monday.
The game will be key in deciding the title battle between City and Liverpool. It was at Anfield that Rodgers first encountered Sterling as he managed the team featuring the then teenaged winger.
The ex-Celtic boss says back then he was impressed by Sterling’s talent and work ethic.
“What I loved about Raheem was that, for a young boy, he knew what he wanted to be,” Rodgers told a press conference.
“When I ask young players what it is they want to achieve, he wanted to be one of the best players in the world, at that age.
“He’s taken his game now to a level where he clearly is one of the best players in the world.
“He was someone who was always going to do the work, he wasn’t just expecting it because of his incredible talent.
“This was a boy who looked after his body and his life to ensure that he could give himself every chance to do that.”
Sterling left Anfield for the Etihad in a move that caused some controversy.
Rodgers downplayed that, stating his belief that Sterling was only concerned with reaching his goals, not money.
“For Raheem, it was never about money. If it was about money he could have stayed at Liverpool. It was about being the best he can be.
“In that moment in time there was an opportunity to go to Manchester City where they had top-class players. He’s gone in there and developed and become a winner, which is clear to see now in his game.
“I look at Pep [Guardiola’s] team and it’s not the same if he’s not in it. What a testament that is to a young English player.”
Rodgers will set aside his admiration for Sterling as the Foxes look for a result against the defending champions which could tilt the title balance the way of his former club.
“We’ll be fighting, like we’ve tried to in every game since I’ve been in, so it’s nice to be involved.
“But it’s over 38 games isn’t it? Those two teams have been really consistent and played at a really high level all the way through the season.
“It will be unfortunate for the team that misses out, but they know you can only really control yourselves in that game.”