The England winger has started the season in fine form and he says what he learned under Rodgers at Liverpool has stood him in good stead for his time with Guardiola
Raheem Sterling has paid tribute to Brendan Rodgers ahead of their Champions League reunion in midweek.
Sterling made his Premier League debut at Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish but he credits Rodgers as the man to have given him his first real chance at senior level.
The two men will be reunited on Wednesday when Sterling’s Manchester City travel to Glasgow to play Celtic, where Rodgers took charge this summer.
The relationship between the two men has not always been rosy: Rodgers threatened to send Sterling home from a pre-season camp in the United States in 2012 for making a comment under his breath, while the Englishman’s camp feel the Northern Irishman put undue pressure on the youngster when negotiating a new contract at Anfield.
But Sterling was full of praise for his old mentor in the build-up to the game at Celtic Park.
City boss Pep Guardiola has praised Sterling for his ability to play in a different positions already this season, and the youngster says it was Rodgers who first helped him thrive in a number of roles.
“He was massive for me. Every manager that I’ve worked with I’ve tried to learn as much as I can and he’s one that I definitely learnt a lot off. Credit to him he was a fantastic guy.
“Playing me in different positions, making me understand the roles and maturing in certain systems… he gave me a lot of confidence as well.
“He’s someone who gave me my full chance in the Premier League and gave me loads of starts and loads of confidence. It will be good to see him again and wish him well but on the day it all comes down to trying to win that football match.”
Much has been made of the fact Guardiola called Sterling during the European Championship to offer his support, but Rodgers also sent the winger a letter at the start of the season – before Celtic and City were drawn together in the Champions League – offering some words of advice.
Sterling, though, says he will have to get the Bhoys boss’ latest phone number this week so they can stay in more regular contact.
“When he first moved from Liverpool I spoke to him then, and probably two or three times since then. I had to change my phone number a couple of times so I haven’t got his new number but hopefully when I see him I’ll get his new number.”
Confidence has clearly played a huge role in Sterling’s career so far: he was noticeably short of it at the end of last season and during the Euros, but seems to have been given a new lease of life by Guardiola.
And Sterling, who scored his fourth goal of the season at Swansea City on Saturday, has revealed how his new boss has been getting the best out of him.
“He said just enjoy scoring goals, enjoy putting it in the back of the net and see it going in the net.
“He just gives everyone confidence, not just me. He gives everyone a belief and a motivation. His speech before [the game] was fantastic so you go out onto the pitch and you’re really fired up.”
Manuel Pellegrini would often insist Sterling needs to improve his finishing and it is a message repeated by Guardiola in the aftermath of Saturday’s game, and Sterling is determined to keep his scoring run going.
“It’s something I need to keep doing,” he added. “I’ve had a few chances over the last couple of years and I just need to finish them off and that’s what’s really going to make me the player I want to be, scoring more goals.
“I just need to be cool in front of goal and keep going, trying to score as many goals as I can to help the team.”