The ex-Liverpool defender joined talkSPORT to speak about his old team-mate, who is taking the football world by storm
Glen Johnson has backed former team-mate Raheem Sterling for the PFA Player of the Year award after watching his dramatic transformation into a top-class player.
Johnson played behind Sterling at Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers, where he helped the winger mature as a player and a person.
Sterling, 24, was always a polite and genuine young man and stood in contrast to the many arrogant players who emerge at that age, according to Johnson.
However, his technically ability needed work, and under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, that side of his game has become exceptional.
The England international, once considered poor in front of goal, has already netted 15 times this season, including a hat-trick against Watford on Saturday.
And Johnson believes Sterling should be rewarded with this season’s PFA Player of the Year award.
“I think he can, I don’t see why not,” he told Jim White on talkSPORT.
“He’s been fantastic. His goalscoring speaks for itself. So he’d be my pick.”
The former England defender added: “I’ve known him from his first days at Liverpool. Where I’m most impressed with him is how much he’s improved technically.
“In those days, he wasn’t technically great at all, he was very quick and powerful. He was actually at his best when he didn’t have to think too much.
“Now, he’s matured as a man and he’s technically a lot better.”
Sterling has also received widespread praise for his actions off the pitch this season, becoming a leading voice in football’s fight against racism.
And Johnson describes the City star as a humble, quiet kid who took nothing for granted.
“He was really polite and genuine, and he worked hard in training,” Johnson added.
LIVE on talkSPORT
There are eight live commentaries remaining across the talkSPORT network this week. Find out what they are and when you can hear them, below…
- Dynamo Kyiv vs Chelsea (Thursday) – talkSPORT 2
- Watford vs Crystal Palace (Saturday) – talkSPORT
- Leeds vs Sheffield United (Saturday) – talkSPORT 2
- West Ham vs Huddersfield (Saturday) – talkSPORT 2
- Swansea vs Manchester City (Saturday) – talkSPORT
- Wolves vs Manchester United (Saturday) – talkSPORT
- Millwall vs Brighton (Sunday) – talkSPORT 2
- Fulham vs Liverpool (Sunday) – talkSPORT
“He was a genuine nice kid – one that burst onto the scene and you actually wanted to help.
“Some players turn up, they’re very arrogant and they think they deserve to be there, but he wasn’t like that.
“He was more than happy to earn his stripes and certainly put in a shift in training.”