Liverpool v Chelsea: Daniel Sturridge driven to victory by his parents as they hope to see striker help Reds take a giant step towards the Premier League title
Sturridge will return from injury tomorrow to face Chelsea at Anfield where his parents will be looking on from the stands
From the days when he was a small boy in the park, dribbling around cones, to training with the kids at Aston Villa, breaking into the first team at Manchester City, being frustrated on the wing at Chelsea and, finally, leading Liverpool’s title charge, two people have always been behind Daniel Sturridge.
Michael and Grace, his parents, will be there at Anfield tomorrow, as they always are, watching Daniel with familial pride and, in Michael’s case, a hard professional eye.
“It’s been wonderful for all the family watching him this season,” said Michael. “It’s been an incredible journey watching him from the age of eight years old, watching him in academy football to now playing first-team football for Liverpool.
“Nothing’s changed in how he is as a person. He’s always been a grounded lad from a young age, and he’s still a grounded lad. I know he’s passionate about football and he’s always been passionate. He’s just always loved playing football from a very young age.
“I used to take him to the park down in Birmingham. He used to dribble round cones with his left and right foot and practice striking the ball inside and outside the foot, so he’s been doing that from a very young age.”
And the young Sturridge would watch football, lots of it, on videos, including one special player. “He had loads of VHS tapes. And before that, he was watching Betamax. He was watching me,” laughs Michael. “I went over to Finland just after I left Birmingham City, when I was released by Ron Saunders. I kept the videos from that period on Betamax, so Daniel could watch me. He takes the mickey out of me.”
Like his son Michael was a striker, and so were his brothers Dean, who played primarily for Derby County, and Simon, who played for Stoke City. “We’re fortunate as a family to have so many footballers in a generation. All the family had their input and offered experience from what they’ve learnt in the game. They all played their part in helping Daniel get where he is today.”
But advice and good genes can only get a player so far. The drive must come from within. “He’s very, very competitive,” said Michael. “He doesn’t like losing. Table tennis, lawn tennis, every sport he can participate in. Did I let him win? No, but he can win most things he puts his mind to.
Including dominoes.” We have domino tournaments and it’s really passionate. He’s very good and if he loses he’s gutted and wants to carry on.”
Sturridge has another secret talent which, now he is living away from his parents for the first time (the family having gone to Manchester and London with him), he utilises. “He’s an unbelievable cook,” said Dad. “Seriously, he’s a dab hand in the kitchen,” adds Mum. “He does a lot of healthy cooking at home.”
Daniel has his brother and his cousin with him in Liverpool, and his parents visit for matches. “We watch every home game,” said Michael. “I still give him stick for whatever he does wrong. I’m one of his biggest critics. Even this season I find faults. Anything he does wrong in the game, we try and look at how he could do it better. But Daniel’s hard on himself anyway so he always looks to improve in everything he does in the game, whether it’s closing down, working for the team. It’s all good.”
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