Kazaiah Sterling reflects on his big Tottenham Hotspur decision and a whirlwind week at Sunderland

It must have been tempting for Kazaiah Sterling to stay put.

Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 11:01 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 4:55 pm
Kazaiah Sterling made his Sunderland debut on Saturday

Another transfer window was passing without Tottenham Hotspur signing a player.

With Harry Kane injured and Fernando Llorente struggling for form, a young striker who had a taste of the action in the FA Cup must have sensed a chance could come at some point.

Then there is the temptation for any young player to stay in an environment where they are training with the likes of Kane and learning from a manager like Mauricio Pochettino.

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"That was definitely on my mind but I felt that, turning 20, this would be a better chance for me to play regular football rather than get on for five minutes," Sterling says.

"It's always a dilemma but you have to come out of your comfort zone.

"If you look at players like Harry Kane and Andros Townsend, they stepped out of their comfort zone even earlier than I have and that has helped shape them into the players they are today.

"It's not just about on the pitch, but also off it, little things like being away from home, which helps you mature as a player."

Making the decision to go out was only one part of the process.

The next question was where.

Sterling had interest from a number of clubs and even on the morning of deadline day, he did not know what the rest of the season would hold.

A call from Sunderland led to a whirlwind 48 hours that saw him travel north, have his first training session and then make his debut in front of a 30,000 crowd.

"There was a hint early in the day but I wasn't too sure where I was going to go," he says.

"When I got the call to tell me to get up here, I was really excited.

"It was a late one, probably about 4pm on deadline day.

"I just had to get all my stuff together – I didn't have much time to pack – and get up here!

"I took the last train up on Thursday night to get up here quicker," he added.

"I was so excited I just wanted to get here straightaway and get started.

"It's a massive club, especially for my first loan.

"I didn't think about [dropping into League One] as long as I got game time. That was what was really important to me, and as long as I had the chance, I was willing to do it.

"There was never really a doubt for me about going to play in League One.

"[Coming on against AFC Wimbledon] was a great feeling," he added.

"As soon as I got here I just wanted to get out on the pitch in front of the fans.

"I got a good reception from everyone so I really enjoyed it.

"It really excites me.

"The day before the game I just couldn't wait. When you play for big clubs, you are always going to play in front of big crowds.

"[Lower league football] really demanding, it's a step up from U23 football and you can tell that straightaway.

"It's more demanding, more competitive, more aggressive.

"It's a really big opportunity for me to play regular football and show that I can do well."

The next step for Sterling is to cement his place in the squad and push for a starting berth.

This week has presented a welcome opportunity to impress on the training pitch.

Sterling is already learning and already starting to feel a little more at home.

"You get to learn from [other players] because you're playing with people who have been in the league for a number of years.

"You see every day in training their habits, and think about what you can do to be like them.

"I think that's really good for me.

"I look at players like Aiden McGeady, he is really good on the ball.

"Robbin [Ruiter] the keeper is another one I have been talking to, he's made me feel comfortable at the club and encouraged me."