The England winger took time out to remember the teenager during Friday’s game at Wembley
Raheem Sterling paid tribute to a former Crystal Palace youth-team player who died of leukaemia during England’s 5-0 win over Czech Republic.
Damary Dawkins, a member of Palace’s elite development squad, passed away aged just 13 earlier this week.
After scoring his second – and England’s third – goal at Wembley Sterling lifted up his England shirt to reveal a shirt featuring an image of himself and Damary.
Sterling had used his social media accounts to help appeal for a blood stem cell donor for Damary and went to visit him at Great Ormond Street hospital.
But, despite a donor being found and Damary undergoing the transplant in January, he sadly died.
Speaking about his tribute after the game Sterling told ITV Sport : “Damary was a kid I was trying to help and we thought we’d found a donor.
“Sadly it didn’t match and sadly he passed away, so I wanted to give his family something to smile about.”
Sterling would go on to complete his hat-trick with Harry Kane’s penalty and a late own goal from Tomas Kalas wrapping up a thumping win for Gareth Southgate’s side.
“It was a beautiful team performance and I was happy to help the team get the win,” added the Manchester City forward. “I’m just being confident in myself, I’m trying to get in areas and take shots, not to worry about anything. The first goal pleased me the most, to get myself up and running.”
Three Lions boss Southgate was effusive in his praise of Sterling after the game.
“I thought Raheem was electric all night,” he told ITV Sport . “He has looked like that all week in training. I’m pleased for him; it is a special night for him.
“I think he’s really matured as a person and a footballer. He’s hungry for goals and hitting things instinctively without thinking too much.”
Southgate continued his policy of giving young players a chance with Jadon Sancho making his first competitive start and fellow teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi coming on as a substitute to make his debut. West Ham midfielder Declan Rice also earned his first cap after switching allegiance from Ireland.
“We’ve got exciting wide players,” said Southgate. “We saw the two young boys [Sancho and Hudson-Odoi] as well, so it gets our good offensive players on the field and higher up the field.”
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