England and Manchester City dribbling specialist Raheem Sterling chats with FourFourTwo. Breaking down how flair is key to his game and how you can add some spice to yours.
Be aggressive, be direct
"There was a point when I was playing in the reserves where I tried to stop-start defenders a lot. This involves accelerating, hitting the brakes to make the defender stop, then quickly bursting away before they can reset their feet. But the manager told me it was best when I was more aggressive with the ball. From then on I tried to be more direct and attack defenders without slowing down. But you can mix mit up a bit - this makes it hard for defenders to predict what you're going to do."
Bamboozle your opponent
"When we watch our games back I look at what I did, and most of the time I wait for my opponents to make a move. You want to make the defender commit to a challenge. I do this by trying sharp body movements or selling him a dummy, or maybe trying a trick to make him go one way so that I can go the other. I don't just break out into a run; I try to do a little shuffle so he makes the first move, and that helps me decide where to take the ball."
Roll with the punches
"I wouldn't say playing against a big, immobile defender is a good thing - it's just a different challenge. Against this type of opponent you've got to move the ball quicker because he's big and strong and you don't want to give him the chance to hit you. You want to get to the space in behind him. But if can't avoid getting kicked, pick yourself up and go again. Don't react - just let the referee do his job. All you have to do is focus on your game."
Beautify your game with these tips from the Manchester man himself Raheem Sterling.
Raheem Sterling wears the Mercurial Superfly and Nike Football's elite training apparel.