A dad who lives in the house where Raheem Sterling grew up has told of his joy as the football hero scored twice in Euro 2020 at Wembley, which looms over his back yard.
Lenson D’costa moved into the property in Neeld Crescent, Brent, North West London – which was Sterling’s home for five years – in October, and thinks he sleeps in the star’s old room.
He said: “I feel really excited when I see Sterling playing for England because this guy was living here.”
And when the Man City ace scored his first Euro 2020 goal, against Croatia, he was thrilled.
Lenson said: “I was running around everywhere, like, wow.”
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Sterling, 26, also scored against the Czech Republic, giving England the wins they needed to top Group D and go through to the knockout stages.
Lenson, 31, hopes living in the house where such a hero lived will inspire his two-and-a-half-year-old twin sons, Esau and Enoch, to become footballers.
Lenson said: “I can imagine Raheem Sterling playing in the living room, telling his mum, ‘I want to be a footballer’, playing in the yard.
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“I can really feel him walking around and I feel motivated, so I tell my boys, ‘Let’s start training’.
“We have a big yard behind us so I make sure I teach them some tricks. They are two years old, but they are very into football.
“Since we moved into this house they have become more sporty. They are out there, shooting the ball.”
The Chelsea-supporter aims to enrol them in the club’s academy and hopes they can follow in Sterling’s footsteps and play for England.
He said: “When we moved here, we got a big surprise that this house was lived in by Raheem Sterling. The owner told us, and said, ‘Look after the house’. I was really honoured.
“Maybe it’s not a big thing for some people, but I was really happy, like, ‘Raheem Sterling – wow’.”
The house has been converted from a three-bed into a five-bedroom property since Sterling lived there, but Lenson believes he sleeps in the star’s childhood bedroom.
He said: “Some things you can’t explain, but they can be felt.”
He takes great pride in keeping the property looking nice.
Lenson said: “Raheem Sterling’s mother used to plant the plants at the front of the house so we try to maintain the same standards of how she looked after the house.”
Sterling lived there with his mum Nadine when he was part of the Queens Park Rangers youth team, and has a tattoo on his arm showing a boy standing in the shadow of Wembley, just as he would have done.
Speaking three years ago, Sterling said as a youngster he dreamed of being “the king of Wembley one day”.
That dream has come true.
And Lenson, who works at the nearby Tesco, now has one of his own.
He said: “I always dream and hope one day Raheem Sterling will knock on the door.
“I love him, he is very kind and doesn’t look like a show-off.
“He is a humble man.”