Sterling must not end up like the great Garrincha

Sterling must not end up like the great Garrincha

The way to a Brazilian's heart? We must have had our fill by now of the glib cliche about samba, football and sex.

The football, or futebol, at least is true. Let me share with you an e-mail I received this week from a friend in Sao Paulo.

"Little Raheem Sterling," it read, "played his heart out against Italy. He probably ran more than anybody else on the pitch, a sure recipe for cramps in Manaus.

"This little dynamo will go far, not the least bit inhibited in his first World Cup. The Rooney assist and the Sturridge finish were perfect.

Another gem Pirlo's 'deixada' when he fooled his marker and let the ball run for Marchisio for a perfect defender-free shot... " The "Little Raheem" line got me thinking.

My Sao Paulo friend knows his futebol, probably better than me.

He may not have spelt it out but I'll wager that he was seeing in Sterling the English equivalent of Garrincha.

The uninhibited mind. The "little" player running free, taking the ball where instinct takes him.

Never giving up, even when indeed his legs are cramping and his lungs thirsting for oxygen and energy to get up and run some more.

Beyond that, the free spirit, the refusal to be daunted by, or even to notice the odds being stacked against his team by the mastery with which Pirlo gave Italy the edge.

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