Raheem Sterling was delighted to come good on Jadon Sancho’s late-night requests as he helped the teenager to his first England goals.
The 19-year-old became the youngest player to score twice for the Three Lions since Wayne Rooney in the entertaining 5-3 win over Kosovo.
Sancho, who started ahead of Marcus Rashford, also grabbed an assist as Gareth Southgate’s side made it four wins from four in their Euro 2020 qualification.
🏴 A first England goal for Jadon Sancho, and then a second 2 minutes later!
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@UEFAEURO)September 10, 2019
The Borussia Dortmund winger has Sterling, who also found the net, to thank for opening his international account as he laid them both on a plate, just as Sancho had asked almost 24 hours earlier.
“He was in my room at 10.30 last night begging for me to square one for him so I was really happy to see him score his first one,” Sterling said.
“He is a good kid, even when I was at that age I wasn’t doing some of the things he is doing, he is professional, he does all of his treatment, he is in the ice bath.
“I see that he really wants to do well and he has got the ability as well, he is not just relying on his ability. He is putting in hard work in the training sessions.”
— England (@England)September 10, 2019
Sterling terrorised Kosovo in the opening 45 minutes at St Mary’s as England racked up a commanding 5-1 half-time lead.
He created three goals, including one for Harry Kane, and also scored his eighth in his last eight games.
It is a far cry from the player who went over 1,000 minutes without scoring for his country, but the 24-year-old knew he would come good.
“Going on that long drought, when I first came in an England shirt I didn’t look at my stats,” he added.
“Until I saw how bad they were I put extra pressure on myself to score. I said to myself that once my first goal went in I knew the goals would come after that and that is all I was waiting for.
“That night in Spain when I scored two from then I knew I would kick on and score goals.
“The last two years with my club has been terrific scoring goals and all I have wanted to do is do it on the international stage, not just score goals but score goals that will help my team to win football matches.”
England, who astonishingly trailed after only 34 seconds, might have been eyeing double figures at half-time but defensive howlers allowed Kosovo back into it.
And Sterling knows if England have any designs to win major tournaments they have to cut it out.
“We were ruthless at times and at this level, and we are playing at a high level now, at half-time that game has to be finished.
“We can’t give away sloppy chances, against bigger teams, no disrespect to Kosovo I thought they played some great football at times, we knew it was going to be difficult, but in the big tournaments against the better teams we can’t be giving them any sort of any hope or opportunity.
“We have got to finish the game off.”