Raheem Sterling admitted he was “not happy” with his lack of playing time at Manchester City last season.
The England striker has been linked with a move away from the Premier League champions after being on the bench several times towards the end of the 2020-21 campaign, including quarter-final and semi-final matches from the Champions League.
But the 26-year-old was a key figure for England in their first two European Championship games, scoring the game-winning goal against Croatia last week.
Sterling gets in shape to do what he loves most.
“It’s just happiness, just being happy, enjoying my football and that’s what I do here with the national team,” he said.
“If you don’t play you’re not happy. It’s me, it’s me since I was a kid, if I play football I’m really happy, if not, I’m not happy.”
Sterling was part of the England squad which managed a goalless draw against Scotland on Friday – a performance that drew boos from the Wembley crowd at the end of the match and harsh criticism from elsewhere.
The City forward believes there has been a “panic” outside the camp and insists his team know not to listen to noise outside.
“I feel like there’s a little overreaction overall in terms of I don’t know if it’s… I just feel there is more panic outside than inside the building, ”he said.
“The players who have been in a few tournaments, who have a lot of experience, are trying to help others.
“I don’t see anyone in the camp feeling pressured or feeling mistreated. As much as we can inside the building, the best thing we can do is focus on the training ground, focus on what’s going on inside.
“We really shouldn’t be looking at what the papers are saying, what the experts are saying.
“This is something we have to take for the rest of this tournament, the more you listen to outside noise the more it can affect you.
“If you don’t really look at this, the better it will be for you as an individual and as a collective as well.
“We’re not really doing it, I’m not saying on the outside it’s negativity, but we don’t want negativity to creep in and performance levels to drop and confidence levels to drop, and that’s all it will do. “
To boos from the Wembley crowd, he added: “I think the fans expect us with the players we have on the squad and that is rightly so.
“But as you can see in different matches in the tournament, not just in our squad but also in other squads, it’s tricky in international football. It’s not as easy as people think.”
Despite Friday night’s disappointment, England will lead Group D with a victory over the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
Winning the group will ensure a tie for the last 16 at Wembley, even if it will be against one from France, Germany or Portugal.
Finishing second would make for an easier game on paper, albeit in Copenhagen, and Sterling says the home advantage could be crucial.
“There is always an advantage to being at home for sure,” he said.
“With the fans impatient and making a hostile place to come, I think that can be a good advantage and like I said we have four points, I keep emphasizing that we have four points and we have a game to play and we’ll need our fans on Tuesday to get us across the line.
“We haven’t talked about that (the permutations to finish second). The goal is to try and win the group and that’s it.”