Raheem Sterling deserves Euros player of the tournament honours after England heroics, says John Stones

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·3-min read
Raheem Sterling deserves Euros player of the tournament honours after England heroics, says John Stones
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John Stones has backed his Manchester City team-mate Raheem Sterling to win player of the tournament at Euro 2020 and insists the winger was fouled for England's crucial semi-final penalty.

Sterling continued his fine form by making both goals in the 2-1 win over Denmark at Wembley, which set up England's first European Championship Final against Italy on Sunday.

Under pressure from Sterling, Danish captain Simon Kjaer turned the ball into his own net for England's equaliser in the first half. The winger then won a controversial penalty in extra time, converted on the rebound by Harry Kane, after appearing to be sandwiched between two Denmark players.

Sterling also scored England's only two goals in the group stage and broke the deadlock in the historic last-16 win over Germany.

"I've said it all along that I'm a big fan of Raheem's," said Stones. "I'd definitely love to see him get player of the tournament, with what he's done for us and the unselfish part of his game goes unspoken about. As players we see it.

"He's been a great threat going forward and how direct he's been in the games. It's been great playing with him and I'm sure he'll be giving everything on Sunday and being direct, hopefully he'll get another goal and see where it takes us.

"I couldn't be happier for him, he has gone through some difficult times personally and I can only kind of speak from my point of view and what I have been through, you can see it has motivated him and he has come out the other end a better player and that is what top players do.

"They define something or they find a way when things aren’t going well to succeed and excel as a player and a person. Raheem has done that on and off the pitch. All I can say is that he really deserves it."

John Stones says Raheem Sterling’s direct approach has been huge for England at Euro 2020 (The FA via Getty Images)
John Stones says Raheem Sterling’s direct approach has been huge for England at Euro 2020 (The FA via Getty Images)

Some newspapers in continental Europe reacted with indignation to referee Danny Makkelie's decision to award England's penalty against Denmark, which was converted at the second time of asking by Kane after Kasper Schmeichel had saved his tame effort from the spot.

Some sections of the Italian media have already attempted to pile the pressure on Netherlands official Bjorn Kuipers not to favour England in front of the home crowd on Sunday.

Asked if England were concerned, Stones said: "Definitely not. I think it was a penalty.

"I am biased but I saw it back and I think the referee made the correct decision. Or VAR made the correct decision. It is something I don’t want to get into or be swayed by, I suppose. My opinion is that it was a correct decision and he has been bumped from two sides.”

Stones added of England's first major final since 1966: “It is huge.

"With it being at Wembley as well, it is even more special. It is something we could only have dreamt of at the start of the tournament. We are here to try and win it.

"We have got this far and we have grown and grown throughout the tournament and we must not put too much pressure on ourselves. We have overcome some tough tests over the past few years and we have learnt a lot of things and gained a lot of experience from those games.

“All the learning curves and experiences we have been on have got us to Sunday so it is a massive occasion."

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