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Player’s former sports teacher praises the talented ex-Copland School pupil

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Raheem Sterling's former school

THE former sports teacher of a Neasden teenager who is set to make football history has recalled the first time he noticed his talents.

Raheem Sterling could be Liverpool Football Club’s youngest ever player at a senior level if he is picked for tonight’s match against Sparta Prague in the Czech Republic.

The talented youth, who is 16 years and 71 days, was born in Jamaica and grew up on the St Raphael’s estate in Neasden.

He attended Copland Community School in Cecil Avenue, Wembley, until last year.

Raheem Sterling playing for Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup match against Southend United on February 14 this year

Paul Lawrence, a sports teacher at the school, said he had spotted Raheem’s talents before he became on of his pupils.

He said: “I was watching a training session taking place on the fields in Copland when I saw him running rings around the other players.

“They were aged 10 and 11 so I presumed he was the same age as them, I was shocked to find out he was only eight.”

By the time Raheem started at Copland he had already been snapped up by Queen’s Park Rangers and was one of their key players in their under 14s team.

Mr Lawrence said: “The fact he had been signed up at such an early age shows how talented he was.

“I’ve seen him score hat tricks in cup finals at the school so anyone with doubts could see how immensely talented he is.”

In addition to teaching him at school, Mr Lawrence also nurtured him during his time with QPR as he is also a coach there.

He said: “One of the things about Raheem is that he is small for his age which proves his talent isn’t because he is big it’s because he is skilled.

“Copland has had many pupils who have gone on to bigger things including Kerrea Gilbert who went to Arsenal, Rhys Williamson who plays at Chrystal Palace and Reece Mitchell who is currently playing for the under 18s team at Chelsea - so the school has got talent.

“I will be watching the match tonight as I hope he does make history and puts Copland as a school on the map.

“No doubt we’ll have football scouts beating down our doors.”

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