Raheem Sterling has already come under heavy scrutiny this summer before England have even kicked a ball.
The 23-year-old has just had the best season of his career, scoring 23 goals, providing 11 assists, and of course, helping Manchester City to the Premier League title.
It’s in some sections of the media that things have been more difficult for him, though, with The Sun recently criticising him over his gun tattoo.
There have also been countless stories lambasting him for turning up late to England duty, with some outlets further targeting him over his booking against Nigeria for diving.
However, in response to that treatment, he has also received backing from a number of high-profile figures, including Gary Lineker and Joey Barton.
Former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard is the latest to come out in support of the Three Lions international, with the now Rangers manager hailing his mentality despite everything he has had to contend with.
“The kid I played with who was so young but his mental strength was incredible,” Gerrard told the Daily Mail.
“There was a lot of attention on him, like there is now, but it didn’t affect his performances. It’s s a huge compliment to someone who can park what is going on off the pitch and do very well.”
Sterling is soundly booed whenever he returns to Anfield due to the circumstances surrounding his departure, but while Gerrard wasn’t happy with Sterling when he quit the Reds, he is now seeing the fruits of his labour at City.
‘ONE HELL OF A PLAYER’
“I’m not going to get involved in how Raheem is living his life off the pitch,” Gerrard added.
“That is down to him. That’s his private business. But what I will tell you is that he’s a hell of a player. He is getting better and better. His numbers are improving in terms of assists and goals.
“Raheem knows how disappointed I was when he left Liverpool but he’s gone on and achieved big things with Manchester City and I want him to do the same for England.
“Players will always be in the spotlight before the World Cup. I’m just looking forward to watching him play. He’s fabulous.”
England play their first World Cup match against Tunisia, with Sterling expected to start somewhere alongside Harry Kane in attack.
If he can have a good tournament in spite of everything, as Gerrard says, it will be a testament to his mental strength.