Words By David Preece

Just imagine you’ve wanted to be a professional footballer for as long as you can remember. Now imagine you’re sixteen years old and you’ve signed for one of the world’s best known clubs, you’re a first team regular by the time you’re seventeen and you’ve become an England international one month before your eighteenth birthday. Sounds pretty sweet doesn’t it? Well, for Raheem Sterling, this is reality.

Despite having achieved more than most players do before he was old enough to legally enter the nightclubs his peers populate, Raheem Sterling is hungry for more. We joined him at the photo shoot for Nike’s Mercurial Vapor IX boot and found out who he models himself on outside of the pitch and who his most stylish teammates are at Anfield.

Topman GENERATION: How would you best describe your style?
Raheem Sterling: I’d say I’m a bit of a skater boy.  Skinny jeans, a nice fitted top and a nice pair of Nike hi-tops or something like that. The trainers are the most important part of the outfit though. It’s the first thing I think of when I’m getting dressed. I choose which trainers I want to wear and build my outfit from there. I think a lot of people would do the opposite but that’s just me.

I’m a bit of a skater boy.  Skinny jeans, a nice fitted top and a nice pair of Nike hi-tops or something like that

Topman GENERATION: Is there any one particular item of clothing or trainers you wear the most?
Raheem Sterling: I’m lucky enough to be sponsored by Nike so I always ask them to send a few pairs of Air Force Ones. I love them. They’re probably the only thing I wear all the time.

Topman GENERATION: Is there anyone out there who you look at style-wise and think “Yeah, I’d like to dress like them”?
Raheem Sterling: I’d have to say Justin Bieber. He’s just a fresh kid. I like him because I think he can pull off a smart look as well as the cool skater boy look too. I’ve tried to copy his style a bit and then a few of my friends have copied me. I’m not saying I’m fashion icon or anything but I just like to look good.

Topman GENERATION: I won’t be negative and ask who has the worst dress sense at the club so give me your top three best dressed players at Liverpool.
Raheem Sterling: That’s easy. My top three would be Glen Johnson, Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard. I really like Stevie Gerrard’s dress sense, he’s just class.

Topman GENERATION: Can you remember what your first pair of boots were?
Raheem Sterling: Funnily enough, they were Nikes too. I think they were red and black Vapors that I got given. They must have been good because that’s what I wear now. It’s amazing to think that the Brazilian Ronaldo wore the original ones and people like Thierry Henry and the Portuguese Ronaldo all wore these boots and now I’ve been asked to wear them too. If I’m playing really well and the boots are doing the business, I might hang on to the boots a bit longer, you know for superstition or a good luck kind of thing. But say if I haven’t played well or scored for three or four games, I’ll either give them to my friends or do a competition on Twitter for a fan to win them.

Topman GENERATION: You were in the news lately for making an unexpected appearance at your old school in Wembley. How did that come about?
Raheem Sterling: To be honest I was just driving past and saw a few of my teachers so I’d thought and stop and say hello. I wasn’t doing it for publicity or anything. Like most players, all I was interested in at school was football. I’ve no idea what I’d be doing if I didn’t play football but I appreciate the help my teachers gave me.

Topman GENERATION: You were brought up by your grandmother in Jamaica until you came to England at five. Can you remember much about that time?
Raheem Sterling: Not really. I know I lived with my grandmother and my auntie but I can’t remember a great deal about it. She lives in Canada now and I still see her from time to time. I visited Jamaica last year while she was there too and it’s always great to see her. Even though I spent the first few years of my life in Jamaica, I never thought of anything else but playing for England.

TOPMAN GENERATION: Well, you’re an England international now. What was the Sweden game like?
Raheem Sterling: I was absolutely made up when I was picked for the squad and I never really expected to play. I was so excited when I got told I was going on. Just being on the same pitch as somebody like Zlatan Ibrahimovic was unreal and being there when he scored that overhead kick was brilliant. It’s made me hungry to be involved more and experience what it’s like to play in a major championship. I know that I’ve just got to work hard and play well for Liverpool to make sure I get there.

Topman GENERATION: Big things have been expected of you from an early age? Did you think it would all go as well as it has?
Raheem Sterling: There was a point when I was 14 that I sat down with my uncle and talked about what I wanted to do. He thought it’d be best if I joined a bigger club to get the best coaching and push for England youth sides as soon as possible. That’s why I came to Liverpool. Luckily for me, I’ve developed my game here and it’s all went as well as it has.

I’d love to experience playing in La Liga. When I’m watching on TV, the football looks unreal

Topman GENERATION: We know you’ve just signed your first contract but could you see yourself playing abroad in the future?
Raheem Sterling: I’d love to experience playing in La Liga. When I’m watching on TV, the football looks unreal but for now, I’m just happy to be playing for Liverpool and I’m loving it.

Topman GENERATION: What car do you drive and what music have you got playing in it right now?
Raheem Sterling: I drive an Audi A3 at the moment and like listening to a bit of Drake, Jay Z and Kanye. I like to mix it up as well and as I said before, I like listening to Justin Bieber (someone in the background asks if he’s a Belieber) Yeah, I’m a Belieber! He’s a cool kid, what can I say? If it has to be one tune though, I’d say either “In Paris” by Jay Z and Kanye or “The Motto” by Drake.

Topman GENERATION: You’ve made no secret of your faith. Does it play a big part in your life?
Raheem Sterling: I’ve always had faith in my life, as far as I can remember. I think it’s helped me massively up to now. I’ve had a lot of change in my life, particularly the last few years and it has given me the strength and belief to do what I do. When I need guidance it’s there for me. My mum would drag me to church but I’m thankful for that now.

Raheem Sterling wears the Nike Mercurial Vapor IX which delivers performance innovation and explosive speed for the fastest players on the planet. Follow @nikefootball