Raheem Sterling eyes a first FA Cup title in his childhood territory of Wembley

Thursday 16 May 2019
An illustration of Manchester City's Raheem Sterling for the FA Cup Final match programme by Phil Galloway

As a young boy, Manchester City’s prodigious winger Raheem Sterling regularly found himself gazing admiringly at Wembley’s iconic arch during an upbringing in the shadow of the national stadium. 

So much so that he committed the childhood memory to a tattoo on his forearm.

“The inspiration was purely from being young, growing up and riding a bike there. I was always playing football so close to it and seeing it getting built,” he says.

“For me, it was the next step in my career, and what I wanted to do was to play for England as well. Always seeing Wembley as a child made it a dream to hopefully be playing there one day.

“I thought ‘why don’t I put an image of a child in front of the stadium’, which was something I was regularly doing. So that was the inspiration behind it.”

Those early memories growing up in north-west London remain strong for the England international, especially where the world’s most famous domestic cup competition is concerned.

“I always remember if there was a game on, you were at the house and you could hear when a goal went in. You didn’t need to check the television!” says Sterling.

Sterling in full flow during City's semi-final win over Brighton & Hove Albion

“You could actually hear the stadium roaring and once the game was on you were always indoors because you knew how busy it was going to be.

“Actually being at an FA Cup Final, Chelsea versus Manchester United (in 2007), was an amazing experience, even though the players did look like ants!

“It was my first time being in the actual stadium, seeing the game was quite remarkable. It was unbelievable.”

Similarly, the FA Cup carries fond memories for Sterling. He has scored in every season of the competition since 2014-15 but it remains the one domestic trophy which has eluded him. 

A chance to break that hoodoo against Watford today serves as an ideal motivation.

“It’s a big competition. Growing up, it was always on the TV so it was the game that you always used to watch,” he says.

“To be at Wembley with City and challenging for it is quite remarkable.

“We try and win as many trophies as we can and we haven’t been able to reach the FA Cup Final in my time here.

“It’s my first time, and hopefully at the end of the game, we can have a trophy to show for it.”

You can read a full interview with Raheem in the FA Cup Final match programme. Order a copy online, or you can pick one up around Wembley on Saturday.

By FA Staff