Daniel Sturridge a ‘perfect fit’ at Anfield
Uncle Dean put striker on right path to Liverpool
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has 10 senior international caps for England. Photograph: Reuters.
There was no triumphant fanfare to herald Daniel Sturridge’s arrival at Liverpool. Doubts greeted him instead. Was money more important than his career? Did he demand to play as a central striker? Was a total of 47 Premier League starts by the age of 23 a sign one of England’s most promising talents had lost focus? Sturridge has answered the questions inside 14 months. Turns out he had lost his love for the game at Chelsea. Liverpool’s gradual embrace has rekindled it.
“When we were at Chelsea together Fernando Torres would always say: ‘Liverpool is amazing,’ always,” the 24-year-old recalls. “Yossi Benayoun was the same.”
Sturridge has earned Anfield’s affection in this season of rediscovery for Liverpool. Only Luis Suarez can better his total of 18 Premier League goals in a campaign that has put Liverpool in sight of a first championship since 1990. He has been instrumental in correcting Liverpool’s way towards a title challenge.
He admits. “Before I came I discussed the move with my dad and uncle, as a family, but mainly my dad and my uncle [the former Derby and Wolves striker Dean Sturridge]. My uncle said: ‘It’s the best place for you to go.’ My dad and I shared the same opinion, that it was the perfect fit.”
The speed of Liverpool’s emergence as title contenders has surprised many, including the architect, Brendan Rodgers, who believes the club are 12 months ahead of schedule. Less so Sturridge.
He was still mired in frustration at Chelsea during the first, problematic six months of the Liverpool manager’s reign and has experienced only an upwards trajectory since his €14 million transfer last January.
Sturridge says: “I thought we could challenge because I have always had belief in the teams I have played for . . . At the beginning of the season the aim was to get into the Champions League.
“Now we’re getting towards the business end and we’re up there, a lot of peoples’ perception is that maybe we can win the league. There are others in a better position than us, it’s going to be very difficult, but we will see what happens.
Sturridge started 31 Premier League games during his three and a half years at Stamford Bridge. He will equal that tally for Liverpool today at Cardiff City where, as the coach approaches the stadium, the England striker will be preoccupied with his mobile phone.
“I watch all my goals before every game on the coach,” he explains, “to get me in the mood and to give myself a vision of how I want the game to go.”