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England "Don't Cheat to Win", Says Sturridge

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Culture clashes in football are nothing new, but Daniel Sturridge has fightin' words for anyone who thinks they can game a referee by cheating.

Note who is pulling whose shirt here. The prosecution rests, your honour.
Note who is pulling whose shirt here. The prosecution rests, your honour.
Warren Little

It was bound to happen. Liverpool's very own SAS — Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge — are likely to face each other when Uruguay and England meet on Thursday. Two star strikers who are used to playing with rather than against each other is a compelling enough story on its own, but even more compelling is setting those players up in diametric opposition to one another. One is a hero, the other the villain. You get three guesses as to who plays which role and the first two don't count.

What's different this time out is that it's not the English press doing their best to paint England's side as those brave boys while Uruguay are depicted as their duplicitous opponents. Rather, it's Daniel Sturridge — yes, he who lives his life with an unrelenting positivity and with little bad to say about anyone — who's calling out poor on-pitch behaviour.

"I'm going to do anything in my power to win this game, provided it's within the rules of the game," Sturridge said. "But I'm not going to dive and I'm not going to handball a goal-bound shot because it's not in my nature.

"We're an honest country and go about our business in an honest way. No disrespect to other countries. But we play the game within the laws. We don't bend the rules. We play by the book. There's nothing wrong with that. We've gone a long way doing that, from 1966 when we won the World Cup, playing within the laws. That's how I was brought up. We don't like to cheat to win. We want to play in an honest way."

He's careful to never name Uruguay in general nor Suarez in particular, but the timing of the comments in conjunction with the way many in England think about the South American game leaves very little to the imagination. It's not necessarily surprising that Sturridge believes this narrative as it's part of a long tradition present in the Premier League where only foreigners play the game the "wrong" way, but it's a bit surprising to hear him vocalise it so plainly.

The truth of each team's playing style is probably slightly more nuanced than Sturridge gives both England and Uruguay credit for, but nuance has never been a strong element in these types of broad strokes. Sturridge may claim moral victory for England ahead of the match, but these things are ultimately decided on the pitch rather than in the press.