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The Legend of Daniel Sturridge, Part 2

The last leg of the Daniel Sturridge retrospective.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League - Final - Wanda Metropolitano Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

I love Daniel Sturridge. That’s a thing that’s probably not in question for anyone who’s known me for very long, as I’ve written many a breathless phrase - and post - extolling his virtues. This, then, is the second half of my remembrance of my favorite player in the first 10 years of my Liverpool fandom.

5. That time Daniel danced with a fan

The moment may seem trivial given all of the things he did end up accomplishing for us, but I can’t tell you how large this moment looms in my head. Sure, it was just Daniel having a little bit of fun with a fan after a match, but it was one of the moments that helped me believe that he was devoted to seeing Liverpool succeed.

A lot of the stick that Sturridge has received over the years has always been stuff that made me tilt my head. Stuff about a lack of commitment or being unprofessional. In all of the interactions I’ve watched - and, believe me, I seek out Daniel Sturridge content on the regular - I never saw anything but a willing and humble servant to the club.

This video, as goofy and ridiculous as it seems, is one of the things that tells me that when his playing career is finally over, he’d likely be a fixture around the club. Because he cares.

4. That time Daniel danced with Alberto Moreno

This is an iconic moment in the history of the club and I won’t hear another word otherwise.

3. Daniel Sturridge as mentor

One of my favorite stories to emerge during Daniel’s tenure on Merseyside were the mentions by other younger players about him being a bit of an older brother figure to them. By my understanding at least each of Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, and Rhian Brewster mentioned Daniel Sturridge as someone who had offered themselves up as a source of support. There was also the implication that he’d been doing this from the perspective of a veteran who was also a Black professional, aware of the slings and obstacles that Black footballers face.

I obviously can’t speak to the specific dynamics of anti-blackness as they present themselves in England, but I know that there are at least relatable instances in dealing with white supremacy in a nation like England that would translate to a person of color in America. And because of that, I absolutely delighted in his willingness to stand up and be present for his fellow teammates.

It also refutes those claims about his lacking professionalism or dedication. Someone like that in your clubhouse is absolutely valuable. And while Liverpool’s current dressing room isn’t exactly bereft of good leaders, I know that his presence has always been valued.

2. Sturridge on the bus during the Champions League victory parade

FBL-EUR-C1-ENG-LIVERPOOL-TROPHY-PARADE Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

I am never, ever, ever going to forget the look of Sturridge, scarf like a crown, enjoying his time out in the sun.

Top Spot: Sturridge’s goal against Manchester United in 2013

The thing about this goal is that it meant a lot to me personally. I’d decided to get up really early to drive, with a friend, to go watch this match at the local pub. He wasn’t a fan of soccer, but he made the trip and he walked away feeling like he’d just seen something. The experience of the fans all singing, everyone eating full English breakfasts, the absolute tension among all of those gathered at the pub. It was electric.

It was only about 4 weeks into that magical 2013-2014 season. Luis Suarez was still suspended. But Liverpool had been grinding out the wins. There was something special in the air.

I thought our luck had finally run out, though. That maybe overcoming United without our talisman was too big an ask.

But then it happened. A peach of a cross from Steven Gerrard and a gorgeous header from Daniel Sturridge. Absolute scenes.

I spilled my beer. It was like 8am. I didn’t care. It was absolutely everything.

I’ll remember the feeling as we all spilled into the street following the match, Old Town Pasadena just starting to wake up, and the makings of another sunny day in Southern California pouring over us. It was elation.

I know now that Sturridge would never again hit the heights of that season, with injuries robbing him of time and, eventually, his spot on the pitch. But I remember that goal convinced me that I’d got it right when I saw him at Bolton and thought he’d be special.

Sturridge’s Liverpool career is going to be the kind that’s only remembered when you want to think about certain groupings of the team. He won’t factor much, I’m sure, in the recounting of the Jurgen Klopp era. And maybe, over time, his contributions even to that 2013-2014 squad will fade.

But I’ll remember. And for someone who was looking, sometimes desperately, for a sliver of the magic that fans from before the Hodgepocalypse swore existed for Liverpool, Daniel Sturridge was it. He was my talisman. And the thing of it is, when he’d had the chance, he almost always delivered.

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