Liverpool's teenage winger Raheem Sterling has pledged his
international future to England, despite still being eligible
for his place of birth, Jamaica.
The 18-year-old, who recently signed a five-year contract
extension with Liverpool, won his first senior England cap
last month in the 4-2 friendly defeat by Sweden.
"It was a dream come true," Sterling told the British media
of playing for England in Stockholm. "As a 15-year-old, I can
remember sitting at home and praying to get an under-16
"To be getting a senior call-up a few years later was one of
the best things that ever happened to me."
After making his full England debut, he could still have
opted to play for Jamaica, where he lived until he was six,
and the country's FA have continued to court the player.
"I've got Jamaican roots but no-one tried to put any pressure
on me," said Sterling, who has represented England at every
level from under-16 upwards.
"I couldn't turn my back on England because I've grown up
through the English youth system and progressed from there. I
want to keep driving on and do a bit more."
Sterling's decision, though hardly a surprise, will be a blow
to Jamaica, whose soccer chief Horace Burrell held talks with
the player in October.
However, it provides a boost to England boss Roy Hodgson,
giving him more options as he plots the national side's
course to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"I couldn't just switch over," said Sterling, currently a
Liverpool regular under Brendan Rodgers and a firm fan
favourite at Anfield.
"So it was a good thing for me to be called up and make my
debut. It's 100 percent going to be England from now on."
Sterling's elevation from the fringes of the Liverpool
first-team squad under Kenny Dalglish last season was
rewarded with a lucrative new deal last week.
"The contract was never about finance," said Sterling,
referring to the protracted talks leading up to the signing
of his contract.
"When people were asking why I wasn't signing it was at a
time when we hadn't even started negotiating."