After England booked their place in the Euro 2020 final on Wednesday, Gary Neville has suggested that Raheem Sterling has been the team’s player of the tournament and will be crucial in order to defeat Italy this Sunday.
The Three Lions defeated Denmark thanks to an own goal and a Harry Kane winner in extra time to seal the comeback, meaning that England will be playing in their first major final in 55 years.
Sterling, who had already contributed towards 4 goals throughout the tournament before last night’s fixture, was pivotal in forcing the own goal for England’s equaliser and later won the penalty which lead to England’s second goal that sealed the tie.
When Neville looked ahead to England’s long awaited major final against Italy, he said that his role in unlocking the rigid centre-back partnership of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chielliniwill be of huge importance.
When Neville was asked on Sky Sports who he considered to be England’s player of the tournament, he said: “Probably about four or five days ago, I just thought Jordan Pickford.
“I just thought he has been exceptional in terms of the clean sheets we have kept.
“Luke Shaw has been outstanding and Kyle Walker has been absolutely brilliant. Kalvin Phillips amazing in central midfield.
“But you’d have to say now with what Raheem Sterling did last night, he definitely jumps in front of those if he wasn’t there before. He was too good for them (Denmark).
“And somehow on Sunday, we have got to find a way to draw Chiellini and Bonucci out so that we can get Sterling in that space in and around them. He has got to be the key, because those two Italian defenders are absolutely brilliant.
“They will half fancy Kane in terms of the physicality element of it and Harry isn’t the quickest. So Harry will have to be clever on Sunday. Sterling I’m sure, if he can just draw one or two of those defenders out, and get them out of their position by four or five yards… we saw the goal that Spain scored where Chiellini was drawn out by a one-two. I think Sterling will be absolutely key on Sunday.”
The Manchester City forward has been a constant in Gareth Southgate’s team throughout Euro 2020 and his performances have legislated the England manager’s decision to choose him despite having a dip in club form last season.
Neville added: “He is the only one that I feel like has not been rested, it feels like he has played every single minute. I know he has come off in a game.
“But it will be interesting on Sunday. Raheem Sterling has been outstanding. Last night, he was brilliant and like I say he just tore them to shreds.”
Featured Image Credit: Credit: PA