WHEN it comes to learning his trade, Kazaiah Sterling has a perfect mentor. As a striker of some promise at Tottenham Hotspur, Sterling trains alongside Harry Kane: England’s captain and No 9, World Cup golden boot winner and rated one of the best in the world.

If Sterling can turn some of his talent and promise into something akin to Kane, then club and country can benefit.

For now, however, it’s all about Sunderland. Sterling has moved to the North-East for a stint in League One where, he admits it’s about growing up and discovering what men’s football is all about.

It’s a route Kane took while making his way at White Hart Lane.

But while Kane stayed closer to home with loan spells at Orient and Millwall before going as far and wide as Norwich and Leicester, Sterling has instantly uprooted to the other end of the country to aid his development on two fronts, both professional and personal.

Signed late on last Thursday’s deadline day, after first hearing of Sunderland’s interest at four o’clock some seven hours before the cut-off point, Sterling is on loan at the Black Cats until the end of the season.

“It's such a big club, you don’t get opportunities like this all the time. When I got it, I just snatched it straight away,’’ he admitted.

“Everyone's been very welcoming to me and made me feel really comfortable, so I've enjoyed it. It helps that there are some young players here already and they've been looking out for me as well, showing me around and just little things like coming up to me and asking how I am, stuff like that.’’

Keane learned his trade, discovering the realities of the game while on loan before going back to Spurs a more rounded and complete footballer.

“Harry Kane had a lot of loan spells when he was younger, and Andros (Townsend) as well, and that's something that gets used a lot around Tottenham's academy,’’ admitted Sterling. “That story shows that players shouldn't be afraid to come out of their comfort zone. It's easy to stay in 23s football and just wait for something to happen but it's a bit harder to stay in your comfort zone when you're away from home, away from your family, and experiencing different things.

“Knowing that players older than us have done that and gone on to be really successful is really encouraging.

“Seeing other players going to different places (and doing well) is really encouraging. I think for a lot of young footballers, the most important thing is playing football, so if it means going abroad or going far away from home, I think quite a lot of young players are willing to do that.

“I think being away from home is the stuff that affects you the most. Probably playing football is the easiest part of it, because that's all you've done growing up. It's the little things that when you go home, you don't have your family there, you're not around all your friends, that's probably the most challenging thing.’’

Sterling has played for Spurs this season, both in the Checkatrade Trophy and, briefly, in the Champions League. It’s a stage he wants to be at regularly.

He added: “The Spurs first team train at a really high tempo, good quality and every player is on it so there's not a day when people aren't on it, trying to improve themselves. Even the littlest things, like passing drills, they're always on it, so it's good to learn from that.

“I look up to them players quite a lot and I'm just trying to do what they do.

“The main thing coming here is game time and being around a men's changing room, a different type of men's changing room. They think stuff like that's going to help shape me into a more mature player. They're the main things I'm trying to get out of it.’’

Sterling made his Black Cats debut as a substitute last weekend against AFC Wimbledon and was yesterday named the Premier League 2 player of the month for January for his displays for Spurs.

He added: “Playing in a different league, playing men's football regularly and competing every week is what I want from this spell. Having games Saturday-Tuesday, I'm not used to that so stuff like that is going to help me in my development.

“You can tell straight away the difference in the intensity and the pressure, how competitive people are, compared to under-23s football, you can tell the step up straight away.

“I think it's really important to come here because sometimes when you go from 23s football straight into the men's game it's hard to adapt. For me, to be playing men's football regularly is going to help to bridge that gap.’’