Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge says 'I love the banter' after infuriating Fulham fans with his goal celebrations
The England striker scored a hat-trick at Craven Cottage
Monday 13 May 2013
Daniel Sturridge finally seems to have found contentment at Liverpool.
Sturridge took his Liverpool tally to 11 goals in 15 matches yesterday with a clinical hat-trick in the Reds' 3-1 win at Fulham.
Sturridge's talent has never been in doubt, but questions have persisted throughout his career about his temperament and discipline.
The 23-year-old's attitude came in to question during his days in the Manchester City youth ranks while his repeated desire to play through the middle is said to have irked a number of his managers at Chelsea.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has not had a bad word to say about Sturridge since his January move from Chelsea, though, and the striker himself seems more than happy with life at Anfield.
"I'm relaxed, I'm enjoying my football and I'm enjoying being out on the football field," Sturridge told Liverpool's website.
"When the manager believes in you and gives you an opportunity, you have to go out there and work as hard as you can.
"If you can do that then hopefully, your ability will shine through."
Sturridge took down Andre Wisdom's long pass and turned Aaron Hughes to equalise Dimitar Berbatov's opener and he then put Liverpool ahead with an opportunistic finish following Philippe Coutinho's deflected pass.
The England hitman then latched on to a brilliant ball from the former Inter Milan midfielder before lifting the ball over Mark Schwarzer to seal the victory.
Sturridge has thrived under the responsibility of playing down the middle in the last three games during Luis Suarez's absence, scoring five goals.
"The manager has put me in a position where I'm able to show what I can do," he said.
"I'd like to thank my team-mates, the manager, God and my family. My team-mates have made my job easy to settle with them. I've kept praying every game - which I always do.
"I want to say thank you to all four. Hopefully I'll have a long career ahead of me at Liverpool.
"My family keep me grounded and make sure that I am not going off the rails."
Sturridge was barracked from the terraces at Craven Cottage yesterday due to his former employment with Fulham's neighbours Chelsea.
Rather than be annoyed by the jeers, Sturridge revealed afterwards that he actually enjoys being booed as it spurs him on perform better.
"I love that. I hope the fans do it every game," he said.
"It doesn't really matter what they say to me. I love the banter, it's what I live for. So hopefully they'll keep giving me stick!"
Liverpool will give continued hope to their fans that they can mount a serious top-four challenge next weekend if they stretch their unbeaten run to eight matches against QPR.
Fulham, on the other hand, are ending the season with a whimper. Martin Jol's men reached the 40-point mark four weeks ago, but they have since lost their last five matches.
The Cottagers look set to record their worst Barclays Premier League finishing position since 2008, but defender Hughes hopes the team can salvage some pride with a fourth away win of the season at Swansea next Sunday.
"It would be nice to go out on a high at Swansea," he said.
"We wanted to get a win against Liverpool because it was our last home game.
"Unfortunately that hasn't happened so now we have to try and get something from our last game and just finish the season on a little bit of a high."
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