England winger Nathan Redmond believes Raheem Sterling is inspiring a generation ahead of next month’s Nations League.
Manchester City’s Sterling has scored 31 goals for club and country this season, winning the domestic treble under Pep Guardiola.
He has spoken out against racial abuse and the way the media covers black players having suffered abuse during England’s 5-1 win in Montenegro in March and Redmond is in awe of his international team-mate.
The Southampton winger told Press Association Sport: “It (the season) caps off his growth as a person, off the field, but also to stand up and be counted on the field. It’s more power to him and it’s not just inspiring football players but a generation, which is sparking change.
“I’ve played with Raheem at every England age group and he has had an unbelievable season. It’s testament to the type of player he is.
“Seeing him do what he’s doing and flourishing is something which is inspiring for any English attacking player.”
Redmond is back with the Three Lions having been overlooked since his debut against Germany in March 2017.
Gareth Southgate will finalise his 23-man squad for the Nations League on Monday, with England facing Holland in their semi-final on June 6.
Redmond said: “It would mean a lot but if I don’t make the final 23 it still means there’s work to do – but there is if I make the 23.
“As a person I’ve grown a lot and have been through a lot in the last couple of years and can handle any setbacks. It’s about staying on a steady line.”
Redmond returned from Ghana last week after a three-day visit with global children’s charity Right To Play to learn his England senior exile was over.
He scored nine goals in Southampton’s final 23 games of the season, excelling after boss Ralph Hasenhuttl replaced Mark Hughes in December.
It has been a long two years since his senior Three Lions debut in the 1-0 defeat in Dortmund but the 25-year-old believes he is ready to challenge for a regular spot with the Three Lions.
He said: “It’s capped off a good season, especially off the back end of last season where I wasn’t performing well, wasn’t confident and didn’t feel like I was enjoying football.
“I finished the season as top scorer in all competitions, players’ player of the year, fans’ player of the year and away fans’ player of the year. This is the icing on the cake.
“It’s another marker to push on. I’ve played in the England squads from under-16s and learned a lot but also learned a lot with the relegation battles with Norwich and getting promoted again.
“It’s about also finishing eighth with Southampton, cup finals and European football. I’ve learned a lot over my career.
“England has never been out of touch, it’s just been pushed to the back of my mind while the season has gone on as I wanted to get back to enjoying football and taking more responsibility.
“The manager (Hasenhuttl) saw potential and wanted to get that bit extra out of me.”