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Raheem Sterling pays tribute to youth mentor Clive Ellington

PAYING HOMAGE: Raheem Sterling

RAHEEM STERLING has paid tribute to the man he says changed his life - youth worker and football coach, Clive Ellington.

The England star was a "football-mad youngster" growing up in the shadow of Wembley Stadium when Ellington spotted his talent and invited him to join local grassroots club Alpha & Omega FC.

From there, Sterling caught the eye again and after impressing in the youth ranks at Queens Park Rangers, he was signed by Liverpool and represented England in various development teams before making his senior Three Lions bow in 2012.

"Clive is the person who got me into football and helped me and he basically gave me an offer one day that I couldn't refuse,” said Sterling.

"He asked me: 'what do you like doing?’ and I told him football, so he gave me an opportunity to play for the Sunday League team he managed.

"Him asking me that simple question was a turning point in my life.

"People like Clive are massive. A lot of people knew when I was younger I was a menace, I had troubles at school and he's a person who helped me with that side and helped me to do something that I love.

"A role model like Clive just helped me to focus on something and it gave me a massive push at that stage in life and gave me the push to help me to get to where I wanted.”

Ellington, who is still coach of the U15s with Alpha & Omega, revealed his side of the tale when speaking to Sterling in a World Cup edition of the Lions’ Den.

"When I saw him kicking the ball up against the wall at home in Wembley, I thought, he's got talent,” he revealed.

"So I went to his school and I asked him if he played for a club and he said no.

“When he came to the first training session, we all stood back and said: 'that's the guy'.

"We knew straightaway and the rest is history.

"After playing for England schoolboys, it was his passion and dream for play for his country, so it's a massive achievement.

"We're very proud and it's not often when you work with a young person from the age of eight and still communicate with them now that you get to see the fruits of your labour.

"It's not just myself, it's everyone who played a part in his early years as well. The boys at the club today still talk about Raheem and that's who they want to emulate.

"There's nothing different that I'm teaching them which Raheem hadn't learnt.”

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