His whirlwind career to date suggests that Raheem Sterling has a guardian angel watching over him – and the 18-year-old believes it to be Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.
A teenage breakthrough himself at Anfield 15 years ago, the skipper helps Sterling in any way he can, including tackling bigger opponents on the youngster's behalf.
"He has been brilliant for me. He's always looking after me, always checking to see if I'm alright," Sterling told the Daily Mirror.
"I've noticed as well that if anyone touches me on the pitch, he'll always get them straight back with a tackle.
"He's always looking after me, on the pitch, off the pitch.
"He looked after me when I first joined the club, got into the team and when I was looking for somewhere to live. He's an inspiration and a great captain."
Gerrard is not the only person looking out for the starlet, though - Sterling revealed that his mother is a major influence in both football matters and otherwise.
"My mum rules my life - she's a nightmare at times, but I love her and she's the main person in my life," the forward continued.
"She has got a very strong personality and thinks she's the boss.
"When I get home from training, she's there, in my face. She's there 24/7. I don't know where she gets her knowledge from. At first she wouldn't come to the games, but then she saw how much I liked it and really got into it.
"Now she thinks she's Jose Mourinho!
"Some of the stuff she's telling me, the manager is telling me as well. She really knows about the game and how to play, what to do.
"She tells me where I could have done better, if I miss a chance then that's it - I'm done. She gives me no sympathy if I've had a bad game. But she tries to be constructive with her criticism, not to put me down. She's been great for me.
"I've got good people around me. My family have all moved up to Liverpool to be with me.
"I've always been a grounded kid and always will be. I will never forget what I've been through, difficult times with my mum and my family. It has been tough at times but it makes you appreciate what you have now.
"Going to Liverpool, being away from my family at such a young age was really tough. But it's the best thing I've ever done in my career. The manager is great with young players because he believes if you're good enough then you're old enough."
Seven victories in nine games in all competitions has boosted confidence at Anfield, with the Reds preparing to take on eternal rivals Manchester United in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday.
Sterling acknowledged the difficulty of a trip to the league leaders but pledged that the younger players among the squad are fully aware of the importance involved with facing United.
He added: "The older boys say that Manchester United is one of the hardest places to go. The pitch is massive and in the last 10 minutes they say it gets even bigger.
"Hopefully we can go there, do our best and come out with a result even though it's going to be very, very hard, a real test.
"The atmosphere in the dressing room is brilliant. We've got Gerrard and [Jamie] Carragher, they're real characters. They're going to make us know what sort of game it is, what it's like and get us ready for it.
"They've been on us all week, telling how important it is. To have people around like that is brilliant. They've been around for so long. They love to have a laugh, good personalities and you need those characters in the dressing room.
"I think we should be doing better. We'd like to be higher in the table. The manager has bright ideas, he's a good manager.
"We didn't start too well, but we're improving all the time and we're going to kick on in 2013. It's going to be our year.
"The manager has got his plans, it's really coming together now.
"It will be a big 2013 for us. Daniel Sturridge has come in, he's a real player."
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