Daniel Sturridge is viewed affectionately by Liverpool fans. Signed by Brendan Rodgers in January 2013 for 12 million pounds, he scored on his debut against arch-rivals Manchester United and would score 11 goals in 16 games in that season.
That debut against the English giants solidified Sturridge’s love at Anfield almost immediately, however, it was the 2013/14 season where the dynamic and fast centre-forward was at the peak of his powers.
During Liverpool’s title run, he formed a lethal partnership with Luis Suarez – known as SAS – and the pair terrorised Premier League defences. Sturridge would finish the season with 21 goals in 29 games, which included a winner against Manchester United and a dazzling derby double against Everton.
Whilst the Reds would ultimately just fall short of winning the league, Sturridge and his goalscoring exploits will always live on in the minds of fans, as his speed, finesse and shooting made him unplayable at times.
However, injuries would come to define his time on Merseyside. Multiple injuries would see him miss 21 Premier League games next season as he would only score 5 goals in 14 games. Continuing fitness issues plus his inability to fit in with new manager Jürgen Klopp’s high pressing system further reduced his playing time.
An unsuccessful loan spell at West Brom in 2017-18 signified how far his stock had fallen.
The boy from Birmingham would not lie down, though. He worked his way back into Klopp’s plans and would play a key role in high-profile games early in the 2018-19 season, his last at Liverpool.
He scored the first goal in a pivotal 3-2 win in the Champions League against PSG and would rescue a point against his former club Chelsea, with a phenomenal strike just two minutes after coming off the bench.
Despite featuring mostly off the bench that season, Sturridge would make 27 appearances, and earned a Champions League winners medal, which was richly deserved given his contribution to Liverpool over the years.
Sturridge’s career is viewed by many to be a case more of ‘what could have been’ rather than one of success and achievement. His injuries robbed him of reaching his true potential, and he left before Liverpool would win that elusive league title.
Yet that seems a bit unfair; after all he scored 67 goals for Liverpool, won another Champions League, a Premier League and two FA Cups with Chelsea and scored at World Cup’s and European Championships for his country.
Maybe it’s because for most of his career he’s never been the key figure of a team. Even in his most successful season, Suarez got much of the acclaim and accolades.
His move to the Glory then could be a chance for him to finally be that figurehead of a team. Of course, leading the line in front of the palm trees of Gosford is a bit different to leading the line in front of the Kop, Liverpool fans of A-League clubs will perhaps be hoping that he can conjure up more moments of magic.
If Sturridge can keep abate his injury demons as much as possible, he will be one of the best and most impactful players this league has ever seen. And all football fans should be hoping hat is the case.
Most exciting, however, is the fact that the rich contingent of Liverpool fans living in Australia will now get the opportunity to watch Sturridge in the flesh after having signed for A-League club Perth Glory.
The beloved marksman will link up with new signing Adrian Sardinero and proven goalscorer Bruno Fornaroli and is set to give manager Richard Garcia some headaches in terms of who he starts alongside the Champions League winning centre-forward.
When recognising the potential impact of Sturridge’s signing, it would be impossible to not view the signing through the prism of the Liverpool fanbase with which it could mobilise to become fans of the A-League Men.
Who could forget when 95,000 people packed out the MCG to watch Melbourne Victory take on the English giants in 2013? Or even in 2017 when the Reds and Sturridge took their talents to ANZ Stadium for a match against then A-League Champions Sydney FC.
In the aftermath of Perth’s huge signing, Kick360 spoke to Australian-based Scotsman and host of Liverpool’s Red Sea Down Under podcast Jimmy Nicholson to get his thoughts on Sturridge and Australian football.
“Despite his injuries, he was an unbelievably talented player,” Nicholson explained.
“It’s great that he is finally back playing club football, you never want to see a player with the ability he possesses miss out on opportunities.
“It’s actually strange to think he’s only just turned 32 and has been out of football for nearly 2 years, but constant injuries have hampered what could’ve been an even more glorious career.”
Although Sturridge suffered an array of injuries during his time at the Merseyside club, he maintained a strong bond with the club’s celebrated fanbase who appreciated his unrelenting effort every time he stepped onto the pitch.
“Every fan loved him, and he always gave his all to the club. He was a key player in the side until constant injuries and later on new signings sent him down the pecking order.
“He’s held in high regard by Reds fans, and nobody will be quick to forget his 24 goals in 2013/14, or even his final LFC goals against PSG and Chelsea respectively in the UCL winning season,” Nicholson proudly asserted.
Sturridge is set to adopt somewhat of an ambassadorial role for the league as he seeks to increase its popularity in the midst of a new TV deal. Nicholson appears to speak for most Liverpool fans in Australia when declaring that he will be far more likely to keep an eye on Australia top division once Sturridge has arrived.
“I firmly believe his name will naturally attract more fans to games,” he said positively.
“He loves having a crowd behind him and (Covid-restrictions aside) he’ll have exactly that in the A-League.
“I for sure will be more inclined to watch the A-Leagues this year to see if there is a little bit of that magic still left in him.”
With the Australian Kop set to follow the former Liverpool star’s every movement while he’s in Australia, the A-Leagues must seize the opportunity provided by his name and encourage all Aussie Reds to see Sturridge in the flesh.
While Australians who shun the local league in favour of supporting bigger European clubs are often maligned in A-League circles, Liverpool fans seeking to watch the A-Leagues for Sturridge will be welcomed with open arms.
If the phrase ‘Build it, and they will come” rings true, then the A-Leagues’ main objective should be incentivising Sturridge’s fanbase to develop a universal passion for the local game once the novelty of his signing has worn off.
This is an opportunity that the A-Leagues and Australian football can seldom afford to miss.