Raheem Sterling can shake off 'Hated One' tag and become an England hero

Two years after being the shining light of a miserable World Cup campaign for England, Raheem Sterling is going through such a crisis of confidence that his involvement at Euro 2016 could already be over.

The Guardian has reported that England's coaching staff are concerned over Sterling's state of mind after the Manchester City attacker's morale slumped following criticism of his form at stadiums and on social media.

The 21-year-old has become unpopular following his bitter departure from Liverpool last summer, which resulted in him being booed at almost every away ground in the Premier League last season. The acrimony has continued at the European Championship, with Sterling coming under heavy criticism from pundits and supporters alike for his performances in his one-and-a-half games at the tournament so far.

It's all a long way from the exciting teenager who sparkled in England's World Cup opener in 2014. Then, in the sweltering Amazonian city of Manaus, he was the star of an insipid England side, fearlessly taking the game to Italy with skill and pace and constantly troubling the Azzurri's heralded defence.

Later that year, he went on to become only the second English Golden Boy award winner for Europe's most promising young player after Wayne Rooney, but since then his relationship with the supporters has soured as his confidence and consistency have nosedived. Now he has become the main focus for attention following England's lacklustre group-stage performance at the Euros.

Sterling went to France in relatively good shape having assisted all three goals in the two games prior to their Group B opener -- a 2-1 win over Australia and 1-0 victory against Portugal.

He also made a decent start in the first Euro 2016 fixture against Russia with some neat work in partnership with Spurs fullback Danny Rose in a first half dominated by England. But with Roy Hodgson's side struggling to score, Sterling became less effective -- needlessly losing the ball on a few occasions -- and he was singled out by some for criticism.

It got worse in the second game against Wales when he missed an early opportunity that seemed to further dent his confidence and was hauled off at half-time with England trailing 1-0. With England again struggling to create clear-cut chances, the spotlight fell on Sterling once more, with former England striker and BBC pundit Alan Shearer saying at the break: "We are carrying him. We are not playing with 11 men at the minute."

Sterling was left out of the starting lineup for the final group game with Slovakia and could well be left out of the side for the round-of-16 clash with Iceland too.

The most expensive English player of all time has become the most derided member of the squad and it would be understandable -- if a little disappointing -- if he were to be taken out of the firing line. Sterling was by no means the worst player in the 1-1 draw with Russia. He made the most key passes (two) along with Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane and Kyle Walker, and his five successful dribbles was second only to Walker. His passing accuracy was sixth among the 11 starters and the total number he made was seventh.

The trouble was that his impact lessened as the game wore on and the agitation toward him grew as England failed to find a breakthrough.

One England supporter even set up a crowdfunding page to raise cash to send him home, and Sterling is well aware of his unpopularity, even signing off one picture on Instagram following that game with the hashtag "#TheHatedOne."

Sterling has never quite been able to shake off the bad feeling surrounding his departure from Liverpool that saw him portrayed by some as a money-grabber and accused of faking an illness to force through a move.

But while he may regret the nature of his departure, his decision to join City would seem justified as he won the first trophy of his career -- the Capital One Cup in February -- and he can look forward to another season in the Champions League.

And there were some individual highlights in an ultimately disappointing campaign for City. He scored a hat trick against Bournemouth in October and enjoyed some standout performances in Europe, particularly his excellent strike in the 3-1 win away to Sevilla and two crucial late goals in the 4-2 success at home to Borussia Monchengladbach.

However, his first season at the Etihad did tail off in the later months as he started just two of the last 16 games of the season.

His new club boss Pep Guardiola is the perfect coach to restore Sterling's confidence and, at 21, he still has plenty of time to rediscover that flair and freedom that persuaded City to shell out a potential £49 million for him. As former Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry told the BBC: "Raheem Sterling has a great future but he is not the finished article -- people are treating him like he is the finished article."

There have been plenty of England players in the past that have come under fire and fought their way back to become national heroes, most notably David Beckham after his sending off at the 1998 World Cup. It probably won't happen at Euro 2016, but Sterling still has plenty of time to win over his haters.