London ball

Now is the perfect time to answer London’s call

Raheem Sterling has pledged to be an outspoken leader at Chelsea, after returning to his hometown of London as an “adult”.

The 27-year-old is back in London for the first time in over 10 years, following highly successful spells with Liverpool and Manchester City.

Sterling has revealed his £47.5m (€56.1m) move to Chelsea revolved around his refusal to accept limited playing time at Manchester City near the peak of his career .

The 77-cap England striker also revealed Thomas Tuchel’s praise for his direct attacking threat, with the Chelsea boss delighted to see Sterling advancing for the Blues with the ball at his feet.

“I’m excited, I’ve grown a bit off the pitch,” Sterling said.

“I feel like my whole journey, going up to Liverpool, Manchester, playing City and living the dream – now I’m coming back to London as an adult.

“I’ve been in football for a while now, I have my head on my shoulders and I know exactly what I want from my life and from football.

“So now is the perfect time to come back.

“In the dressing room and at the football club, there is a developing side of me that I would like to see a lot more of, and that is being more involved in decisions in the dressing room, being more vocal and being more vocal. ‘trying to lead the team on.

“I think he (Tuchel) told me it was my franchise, always threatening from behind, not always wanting him in the feet and coming in from behind.

“But the most important thing is how I attack the box, and with the full-backs we have here, he said that was the one thing he wanted to see a lot more of, so that was the conversation there.”

Sterling was born in Jamaica but grew up in London, before making a name for himself and carving out a high profile career at Liverpool and then City.

The speedy striker returns to London with four Premier League titles to his name, with new Chelsea owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital seeing him as their top target at the start of the summer.

“The move happened, like everything you strive for as a person, and I just felt my time at City was getting limited playing time for different reasons,” Sterling said.

“I couldn’t afford to waste that time. So I had to keep the same level and take on a new challenge.

“It’s something that for 17 years I was a regular starter, so coming to a peak point in my career not playing regularly is something I wouldn’t accept.

“My personality is to try to fight back and change the script, but that just didn’t happen and that’s it.

“It was the option that suited my personal goals, as well as my family and the direction the club is taking.

“It’s a team that is competitive and will only get better. Also with the new owner, it made a lot of sense.

“It was difficult of course with the time I spent at City and there are a lot of memories and great moments.

“But the year and a bit that I’ve been in and out of the team has taught me a lot about myself, made me appreciate a lot of things and I’ve tried to put things in order.

“It was a tough decision, but you have to make the decision that’s right for you.

“I feel like I’m coming home, coming back to London; it’s been a long time since I’ve been gone, for about 14 or 15 years.”

Chelsea banned one fan for life and five others temporarily for racist abuse directed at Sterling at Stamford Bridge during their Manchester City days in 2019.

The new Chelsea signing insisted the incident didn’t even cross his mind amid his decision to join the Blues.

Asked about this 2019 abuse, Sterling added: “It’s the first time I even remember it.

“It was not something that crossed my mind at all, I can’t let abuse from individuals affect my perception of a club.”