England's Daniel Sturridge reflects on an up and down year ahead of Sweden game
Daniel Sturridge reflected on what he describes as a 'whirlwind year' for himself, ahead of the match against Sweden in Stockholm.
The Chelsea forward made his England debut against Wednesday's opponents at Wembley 12 months ago and went on to appear for Team GB in the London 2012 Olympics.
But he also suffered from meningitis during the summer, which almost kept him out of the Olympics and he has suffered the frustration of club football at Stamford Bridge where he hasn't featured as often as he would like.
He said: "It has been a whirlwind 12 months. I've had highs, lows, everything thrown at me.
"It was hugely character-building. The meningitis was the hardest point of my life, the most emotional period I have had, but I am glad I recovered.
"I am not one to try and give it the sob story about myself. I have recovered. People have had meningitis and been a lot worse than I was. It was something I was able to get over. I am moving forward now, getting stronger and feeling better every day.
"Then to play in Team GB and be involved in the Olympics when I thought I wouldn't be able to, then to lose and go out and go back to Chelsea and not play as much as I did last season...obviously things have been different for me.
"But it is all just making me stronger and I have still got belief in myself.
"I am not a person to shy away from any sort of adversity. I like to walk through everything and try to come out smelling of roses.
"It's just great to be in the position where I am now, to be involved in the England squad even though I've not been playing regularly, and for the Manager to show huge faith in me.
"I just want to thank him for picking me in this squad and hopefully I will be able to repay him."
With a lot occurring since that 1-0 victory over Sweden last November, Sturridge recalls little about the match itself but is determined to keep on making the right sort of impression in his outings with both England and Chelsea.
"It was a long time ago when I played against Sweden last time. I think I played on the wing, so I don't know what the Manager is going to do, whether I will play as a striker or a winger," he added.
"I am not one to stress about whether I start or not. It is the Manager's decision and I will just go out there and show him what I am capable of doing, whatever amount of minutes he gives me.
"It is a huge window of opportunity for everyone to show the Manager what they can do and stake a claim to be involved in the World Cup qualifiers.
"It is just a great place to be and to be a part of it is always special, whether it be a friendly or a competitive game."
The former Manchester City man also paid tribute to Steven Gerrard, as the England captain prepares to reach a century of caps.
Gerrard, who has made 99 appearances for the Three Lions since his debut in 2000, is expected to lead the side out once more in Stockholm.
And even though Sturridge himself is a rookie by comparison - the 23-year-old is bidding to win his fourth cap later this week - he feels the Liverpool man is a truly "unbelievable" player.
When asked about Gerrard's forthcoming milestone, Sturridge said: "Unbelievable. He's a great player and he's been fantastic with me when I've been involved in squads.
"If you ask any midfielder that he's played against, they'll say he's a great player.
"Hopefully he'll be running out on the field and picking up his 100th [cap] tomorrow."
Sturridge also praised Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, who is in line to make his England bow if selected on Wednesday after starring for the Eagles in the Championships and for England Under-21s.
He said: "I have watched him (Zaha) play a few times and he's a very talented player. He was sharp in training today; he looked very good as he's got a lot of skills. I'm looking forward to playing with him.
"He's fantastic. It's a great vote of confidence to pick him considering he plays in the Championship.
"That just shows players in the Championship that if they do work hard and train and play well in the games, the Manager will give them the opportunity."