On a personal level, it was hard to enjoy the signing of Daniel Sturridge. Many were far more optimistic, but regular viewing of the player ahead of his move to Merseyside in January of 2013 was not inspiring. He often struck a self-involved, stubborn figure while featuring under a few different managers at Chelsea, and while Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool squad were clearly in need of another striker to support Luis Suarez--who was yet to find his best goalscoring form--it was hard to come to terms with the idea that this was the striker the club had settled on.
Fast forward two years and its hard to picture Sturridge as anything other than a Liverpool player. He still has his moments of petulance and selfishness, more recently of late as he tries to find his footing after nearly six months out through injury, but on the whole he's been a complete 180-degree turnaround from the player it looked like Liverpool were buying.
His influence is visible on and off the pitch, and in a squad full of players in their early twenties, he's a veteran presence who has, albeit in a relatively limited capacity, been involved in some of the more pressure-packed situations in European football. That seems to fit well with a character that seems endless positive and easily likable, and in wide-ranging interview with Oliver Holt of the Daily Mail, the Birmingham native commented on where his sights are set going forward:
"Whatever environment you are in, you go with it. I don't point fingers at anybody. Whatever the boss wants me to do with England, I'll do it because he's the boss. Football is about being a team player and whatever the boys are doing, you have got to go with that. I don't blame anybody.
"I don't pree. Why am I watching someone else's glories and achievements? It doesn't matter to me who comes around or what players are about. It means nothing to me. When you watch other people, you don't get anywhere in life because you are at war with yourself. Well done to Harry Kane and what he has achieved but I am not watching what he is doing. I just believe in me."
The initial comments are in reference to the September injury while on duty with England that kicked off months of setbacks, while the follow-up are in response to a question about any "admiration" for the on-fire Spurs striker. It would be easy to read the pair as contradictory, but after closely following Sturridge's development in the past two years, they couple nicely.
He is a driven, focused professional who clearly enjoys himself on and off the pitch, but almost exclusively on his own terms. He is a wonderful teammate that is prone to bouts of ineffective self-interest, and one who seems just as capable of being a squad as he is isolating. He is far from perfect, but he seems to have struck an effective balance in his personal and professional life, and to have him at this stage in his career--one at which he appears to have learned some critical lessons and is willing to put in the work necessary to continue to improve--can only be seen as a positive for Liverpool.
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