After a sensational transfer last summer from Liverpool to Manchester City for £49m, the world was all set for Raheem Sterling.
The 21-year-old was on the rise, he had the world at his feet at a club that would challenge for the highest honours, ones that he felt he couldn’t achieve at the Anfield club.
Now, after a disappointing season and a poor start to the European Championship, the world seems to have turned against someone still so young.
After an initial bright beginning in the game against Russia, his game collapsed during the second half and then fell to pieces in the second group match with Wales. For Slovakia, Sterling was rested.
On Instagram, after the Russia match in Marseille, Sterling posted the message: “#TheHatedOne”, and some began a fear for his state of mind.
There were a few boos from the terraces against Wales, which obviously haven’t helped a player suffering from a lack of confidence, but the England back-room staff have cause for concern.
They fear that Sterling has become a scapegoat for England’s underwhelming achievements thus far and although Sterling may have a thick skin due the way in which he left Anfield and the abuse from that followed, the level of attack, particularly on social media, is one that the youngster is finding hard to take.
Hodgson had publicly backed the most expensive player in his squad after the draw with Russia, and following that post on Instagram, claimed Sterling’s “mental state is very good” and that he had been “as bright as a button in training”.
“It’s not nice to see people like [Sterling] being booed – it does hurt,” the assistant manager, Ray Lewington, said when asked about Sterling before the game against Slovakia. “People think they earn loads of money and have no feelings.
“It’s completely wrong. They are human beings, they feel things, particularly when they are young and trying to find their feet and it wasn’t nice.
“Young players do suffer from confidence sometimes and in the second game he looked as if he was slightly nervy and wasn’t doing things he was doing in the first game. But we have a lot of time for him, he’s a lovely kid. I don’t know how he gets this thing that people don’t like him.”
It’s unlikely that Sterling will play against Iceland on Monday and he will have some work to do at home to convince the new City boss that he should stay.
Sterling found it difficult to get as much game time as he would have liked last season and appeared to slip down the pecking order under Pellegrini.
At City, Sterling has been limited to playing most of his games out wide where he sees less of the ball and has limited space to work with. Of his 33 starts since joining City, just four of them have come either playing as a number 10 or as a striker. A completely different scenario to life at Liverpool.
The competition at City is also a factor, but surely he is better than some of those ahead of him?
With such a long way to go in his career, Sterling needs to stabilise and get his head together and prove himself all over again.