Daniel Sturridge in profile

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With Liverpool’s lack of strikers to support Luis Suarez coming under intense scrutiny during the first half of the 2012-13 season, the name of Daniel Sturridge kept resurfacing as a new transfer-window got closer. It was not, therefore, a major surprise when on the first working day after the New Year, Liverpool F.C. confirmed that the 23-year-old forward had signed a long-term deal to become a permanent addition to the squad of manager Brendan Rodgers. With Fabio Borini having had a long spell out with a foot injury and Andy Carroll on a season-long loan at West Ham United, the urgency of the situation had not been lost on the club’s manager or its managing director, Ian Ayre. Having been thwarted in an attempt to sign an adequate replacement or foil for Suarez in the summer, it was clear that the same mistake could not be made twice. Ayre commented after securing Sturridge’s signature on a contract: “It was important to us that we did all of the work ahead of the transfer window in talking to Chelsea and the player and his representatives. We made sure we did that so we could hit the ground running in January - and here we are today on the second and we're all done and dusted.”

Sturridge was born in the Midlands and played at youth level for both Aston Villa and Coventry City before heading north to join Manchester City’s Academy in 2003. Three years later, still only 16-years-old, his goals helped City reach the FA Youth Cup final where his brace gave the Blues hope in the second leg as they tried to claw back a three-goal deficit from the first leg at Anfield. Although Liverpool’s youngsters took the trophy home with them after a 3-2 aggregate victory, Sturridge had announced himself as someone to be watched. However, his opportunities for playing in City’s first team were limited and shortly before his twentieth birthday he signed a four-year deal with Chelsea. The Londoners won the Premier League title at the end of his first full season at Stamford Bridge but, as in Manchester, his contribution was not massive, just one goal from thirteen League matches, but he was much more prominent in the FA Cup that season, netting four times and coming on as a very late substitute at Wembley in the final as Chelsea beat Portsmouth to add the domestic cup to their Premier League crown.

Halfway through the following season, Sturridge had a very successful loan spell at Bolton Wanderers. Eight goals from twelve appearances was a very creditable goals-per-game ratio. But it still wasn’t enough to get him a regular starting spot in the Chelsea team when he returned to London under new manager Andre Villas-Boas, who had replaced Carlo Ancelotti that summer. As in 2009/10 Chelsea had a strong finish to their season and the young striker was an unused substitute in both the FA Cup final and the Champions League final. But he did score eleven League goals, including an equaliser at Stamford Bridge against the club who would eventually sign him from Chelsea.

With Olympic mania sweeping through Great Britain in 2012, Daniel Sturridge was named in the mens’ squad to represent the host nation. It initially looked as if illness would keep him out of the tournament. But he was fit enough to make the team and score the winning goal against Uruguay as the British team finished top of its group. At the quarter-final stage, however, Great Britain were eliminated by South Korea on penalties after a drawn match. Although Sturridge missed his penalty-kick in the shoot-out, it is unlikely to cause him as much lasting anguish as another important penalty that was missed by his team manager, Stuart Pearce, over twenty years earlier.

Sturridge only appeared in seven League matches for Chelsea in the first half of the 2012/13 season as increasing speculation linked him with a move back to a north-west club. Then, almost as soon as the transfer-window opened, that move happened. The player’s instant reaction was that he was thrilled to have signed for “one of the biggest clubs in the world”. Although he had a few recent injury worries behind him, he seemed genuinely excited to be “part of something new and something special," the words he described the way the club was progressing under its new manager, Brendan Rodgers.

For several months before Sturridge’s arrival, Luis Suarez had had to bear the main responsibility for scoring goals, such was the situation at the time. But Sturridge does not regard himself as a replacement for Suarez. His approach is quite the opposite because he says: "It's good to be part of a team with him in and I'm sure we'll be able to play well together.” The new recruit knows he will be under more scrutiny and pressure than at any of his previous clubs. Liverpool’s coaches and supporters will be hoping that he can hit the ground running, just as he did during his very productive spell with Bolton Wanderers. New players often take time to adjust to their new surroundings. This player and his new fanbase will be hoping that he can make an instant impact. Even if it is only half as successful as the man he is likely to partner rather than replace, that will still be acceptable enough.

Copyright - Chris Wood ([email protected])

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