Daniel Sturridge: How I Became an England Player

Thursday 26 Dec 2013
Daniel Sturridge in action against Republic of Ireland
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Daniel Sturridge has been making headlines this season with his flurry of goals for Liverpool, while for England the 24-year-old netted two goals in five appearances in 2013.

The World Cup in Brazil next summer may be in his sights now, but his pathway to international football began back on a small patch of grass in Birmingham...

"I remember playing football when I was growing up, at school and in the front garden of my house in Hockley, Birmingham. My dad has videos of me playing, they are good memories playing on this patch of grass. I've got a picture of it on my phone to remind me how far my family and I have come. I went back a few months ago, and it was good to see the platform that helped me to where I am today.

"I came from a real football family. My uncles played, my dad played. It's great to have them around for advice and to bounce things off of. My brother was a good player as well and was unfortunate not to make it professionally, I think he should have. One of my cousins played for Shrewsbury, and a female cousin played for Aston Villa. I also have another younger cousin who is at Aston villa now, so football is something I’ve grown up with and I guess it's just in the blood.

"My first team was Cadbury Athletic, who were based at the factory and you could smell the chocolate when you played. Unfortunately, though, we didn't get any freebies. It was top-class pitch for a Sunday League team, and I looked forward to games every week. We had a good side and wore a purple kit. It was a good time in my life, we played a lot of competitions and it gave me a good grounding in the game.

"I was spotted by a few professional clubs, like Wolves, Aston Villa and Birmingham, and I ended up signing for Villa when I was eight or nine. I went to Coventry when I was eleven, then on to Manchester City. It was a good time for me to learn in different environments, different cultures, playing up an age group as well.

Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring for Man City in The FA Youth Cup

Sturridge celebrates scoring for Man City in The FA Youth Cup

 

"You always remember you first time training with the first-team. Looking at some of the players I was training with, how could I forget? I was at City, about 15 years old, and Kevin Keegan was the manager. I remember the session like it was yesterday because Nicolas Anelka was there, and he was one of my favourite players. Where was Robbie Fowler, who was a legend scoring so many goals, Steve McManaman too. While there were players like Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joey Barton, David James, Richard Dunne. It was special just being around them and real honour to be on huge training field with them. I ended up playing with Nico at Chelsea, so it’s funny how things work out.

"At the start of 2008, I returned to action after four months without playing football following an injury. In my first game back, City played Reading in The FA Youth Cup and I scored a hat-trick. The following weekend, the first-team played against Sheffield United in The FA Cup and I came on and scored there, and then I started in the Premier League game at Derby in midweek and scored there too. It was a weird week for me, scoring in all three competitions. But I then got injured again and missed the rest of the season. Mentally it was hard for me.

"The first time I was called up to the England team was for the U16s in the Victory Shield. My dad put it on DVD for me, I remember the goals so clearly. One was a volley, the other I turned in the box and shot with my right foot. It was the first game on Sky that I'd played in, so that day was special.

Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge in Senior team action against Ireland

 

"I’ve been fortunate to play for England in two tournaments, at U19s and Under-21s level. They were great experiences and gives you an understanding of the real thing. It's a good transition, I played in all the age groups and I'm now in the full squad.

"My first senior goal was against San Marino in March. To score for England is an amazing feeling. It's the pinnacle just to be involved in a squad, so to get a goal in a World Cup qualifier was so special for me. It's every player’s dream to play in a big tournament for your country, and hopefully I'll be involved in the World Cup next summer so there will be more occasions where I can help the team have some success. It's not easy, but, god-willing, it will happen."

 

By Glenn Lavery