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Daniel Sturridge, You’ll Never Walk Alone

After six and a half years at Anfield, Daniel Sturridge is leaving Liverpool F.C. 

SSC Napoli v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Group C Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

On 2 January 2013 – after the need for another striker had become abundantly clear during the first half of the 2012-13 season – Liverpool confirmed the signing of a then 23-year-old Daniel Sturridge for 12 million GBP from Chelsea F.C.

The Beginning

Born in Birmingham, England on 1 September 1989, he began his youth career playing for both Aston Villa and Coventry City before he signed for Manchester City’s Youth Academy in 2003 at the age of 14. At 16, Sturridge made himself known, as his brace helped City reach the FA Cup Youth final, a match they ultimately lost to Liverpool. Unfortunately, his playing time was severely limited for someone who possessed so much talent and he signed for Chelsea shortly before his 20th birthday. He won the Premier League and the F.A. Cup with Chelsea in that first season but was loaned out to Bolton Wanderers during the first half of the following season, where he scored eight goals in 12 appearances. This however, was not enough to ensure a regular start at Chelsea when he returned to the club after Andres Villas-Boas replaced Carlos Ancelotti, and he was an unused substitute when Chelsea lifted both the UEFA Champions League and the F.A. Cup at the end of the 2011-12 season under Roberto Di Matteo.

Signing for Liverpool

Having only made seven Premier League appearances for Chelsea at the start of the 2012-13 season, the rumours that Sturridge would move to Liverpool were rife throughout the first half of the season, and the moment the transfer window opened that summer it was announced. Sturridge was now ours. He was thrilled to “be part of something new and something special”, and clearly absolutely delighted at having signed for “one of the biggest clubs in the world” and his impact was immediate, becoming the first player since Ray Kennedy in 1974 to score in each of his first three appearances. He scored a total of 11 goals in his 16 appearances for the club in that half of a season, which included a fantastic hat-trick at Fulham towards the end of 2012-13 as Luis Suarez began serving a suspension for his bite on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.

Of course, we remember the season that almost was - 2013-14 - where Sturridge stepped up and carried the load as Suarez continued to serve his ban at the start of the season, scoring six goals in six games. He managed to score the first and last goal of that Premier League season and scored a total of 24 goals in all competitions.

Sadly, Sturridge’s 2014-15 season was marred by injuries and he only managed 12 PL appearances and six cup ties. In May of 2015 he travelled to the U.S for surgery on his hip which had been the cause of successive thigh injuries that season. His surgery was successful and followed a rehabilitation period that would see him return to action in September 2015 but he became injured again shortly thereafter, and was thusly used with caution once Jürgen Klopp arrived on the scene in October 2015. In spite of all the injury drama, Sturridge still managed to finish the season with 13 goals in 24 appearances. He would however, go onto injure his hip shortly before the start of the 2016-17 season and although he appeared seemingly fit by the start of September, he would go on to start only nine games that season.

Sturridge had limited opportunities during the first half of 2017-18 due to Liverpool’s other attacking options which sparked a loan move to West Brom in January 2018, a spell which turned out to be a huge disappointment due to him being plagued by injury yet again.

During the pre-season of 2018-19, Sturridge returned to Melwood revitalized and impressed Klopp immensely, saying “I’m part of an unbelievable group, we have a chance to be successful this season. Everybody is pulling together and being part of that unity – being together as one and trying to make this team successful – is what it’s all about.”

On the opening day of the season he scored against West Ham and scored on his first start when he headed the opening goal of Liverpool’s Champions League campaign against Paris St. Germain. He maintained his fitness throughout the season but with a wealth of attacking options at Liverpool’s disposal, 24 of his 27 appearances were from the bench. On 4 June it was announced that Sturridge would be leaving the club on 30 June 2019 when his contract expires. But, he leaves on a high, after an historic campaign for Liverpool in a season where the club accumulated 97 Premier League points and finished things off by being crowned European Champions on 1 June 2019.

Jürgen Klopp on Sturridge

Daniel has earned the right to be considered a modern-day Liverpool great, I would think. He came to the club while we were trying to rebuild and re-establish ourselves. Some of the goals he has scored for Liverpool were so, so, so important.
He is one of the best finishers I have ever seen in my life. He scores goals you think could and should not be possible. Again, like many players in my squad, Daniel has had to be patient and contribute when asked during games, but even this season he has played a vital role.
What maybe is missed on the outside of the club by many is what a great leader Daniel is in our dressing room. He is smart, confident and not afraid to speak up when he thinks there is something that needs adapting to help the team. He has been great with many of the younger players also, so he has been so important to our progression here.

I think I speak for many, many Liverpool supporters when I say that we are gutted to see him go. Sturridge’s goals in 2013-14 revived my love for football after a tumultuous period as an LFC supporter (I have supported the club since the age of 11), and although this past season may not have seen his complete resurgence, I will always think of him when I hear the tagline, Form is temporary, class is permanent.

Daniel Sturridge is pure class and I wish him only the very best wherever his journey may take him next and I’m sure as hell going to miss seeing the “Sturridge dance” at Anfield.

Thank you Daniel, Y.N.W.A.

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