Raheem Sterling’s England journey may be ending but he delivered thrilling ride | Barney Ronay

The Chelsea forward’s warrior-level mental toughness has been on show throughout his underrated international career

Ben White should probably consider himself lucky. Nineteenth-century punishments for desertion in the face of the enemy – which this definitely is, that’s not an issue – included summary execution, being branded with the letter D, a thousand lashes administered by the regimental drummer, which somehow makes it worse, and most terrifying of all, deportation to Australia.

Resisting the pull of the flag, the call to arms, duty to Albion. This has always been a profound strain of English anxiety. Most of the St Crispin’s Day speech in Henry V is taken up with shaming all the attendant peasant conscripts who would rather, on balance, run away than be a part of that wall of English dead someone was talking about back there. Even the war poets, contemplating being shredded into the mud of the Somme, just kind of shrugged sadly and got on with it.

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