The last European Championships ended in Raheem Sterling being booed by his own fans and saw him labelled as “the hated one”.
Friday night changed all that with the Manchester City midfielder scoring a hat trick to help secure England’s 5-0 thrashing of the Czech Republic in their Euro 2020 qualifier. It was the first hat trick by an England player at Wembley since Jermaine Defoe in September 2010.
Sterling opened the scoring in the first half with a left footed shot from close range, before adding two more in the second half, including one from outside the box to complete the hat trick.
Harry Kane scored a penalty just before the break after Sterling was brought down in the box by Pavel Kaderábek, who received a yellow for the foul.
Manger Gareth Southgate gave Jadon Sancho his first international start and the Borussia Dortmund winger repaid the show of faith with a fine performance. He started his high quality night with a perfect cross for a stretching Sterling to open the scoring.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was making his England debut before his first Premier League start for Chelsea, made a huge impact after coming on for Sterling, who left to a standing ovation. The 18-year-old’s shot was saved by keeper Jiri Pavlenka, only for Tomas Kalas to turn the rebound into his own net.
Victory for England, who survived a few minor scares at the start of the second half, sees them top Group A after Montenegro drew 1-1 with Bulgaria earlier in the day.
The Three Lions will play Montenegro on Monday at Podgorica City Stadium.