Daniel Sturridge: Liverpool return like second chance with a girlfriend
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in July ahead of the start of the Premier League season.
ANN ARBOR, Michigan -- Daniel Sturridge has told ESPN FC that he regards his return to Liverpool like a second chance with a girlfriend, insisting he still loves the club and is ready to help Jurgen Klopp's team end their wait for silverware.
The 28-year-old was told he can still have a future at Anfield by Klopp after a six-month loan spell at West Bromwich Albion last season.
Sturridge has endured an injury-interrupted time under Liverpool's German manager, but he told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview that he is upbeat about the campaign. And he says that being away from Liverpool last season made him realise his feelings for the club and why he still wants to be a success at Anfield.
"I've never had any issues with anybody at the club," Sturridge said. "I've never had any issues with the manager, with the staff. I love it here. I love the players, but sometimes you have to do something for you.
"It's the same as, I don't know, if you've been with a woman for a long time, and then you're like, 'Man, I don't feel like it's working out anymore.' But then you go away, like, 'Me and my girl's relationship was kind of sweet still. I might have to go back there.' It's kind of like that.
"Like I said, I've always loved the club. I've never changed. I don't see myself going, but you never know what happens in the future. How I am now, I'm enjoying myself, and it's a great vibe right now, so no complaints at all from me. I'm looking forward to trying to help the team be successful this season."
Sturridge, whose Liverpool contract expires next summer, admits he chose to leave Anfield on loan last season for an unsuccessful spell at West Brom that saw him make just six appearances without scoring.
But despite the stiff competition he has for a first-team place this season, he is confident he can still make an impact for the club.
"Yeah, I chose to go on loan," he said. "It wasn't a case of the club saying, 'We want you to go on loan.' It was my decision, and the sporting director made it clear, 'We don't want you to leave.' But I thought as if I had to leave to get my head right, to get away from the club to have a new lease, because I'd been there a long time, and I wasn't playing as regular as I would have liked to.
"Going away to West Brom, I learned, too. You learn things about football. You learn about yourself. You get to assess the situation from the outside, looking in. When you're on the inside, there's no other perspective but what you see on the inside. When you're on the outside you get to look at things a little differently. How you can help, how you can fit in, how you can do certain things differently. So it was a good experience for me."
But can he break into the team ahead of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Xherdan Shaqiri?
"It's football, isn't it?" Sturridge said. "When I was at Chelsea, we had Didier [Drogba], we had [Nicolas] Anelka, we had [Salomon] Kalou, we had [Florent] Malouda. We had loads of players. When I first joined here, we had Luis [Suarez], which people maybe was thinking we were going to play together, but I wasn't guaranteed to play when I signed for Liverpool.
"I feel like, in football, you always have to prove yourself as well. The past is in the past. Last season was last season. Now it's a new season. So you have to continually evolve, and you have to continually try and help the team in any way you can, whichever position it may be, whichever team the manager selects, you have to say, 'OK, cool, that's for today.' The next game might change.
"I think, to be successful, you have to have a great squad, too. It's not about any individuals, although certain players will play more than others. In this day and age, you see squads make the team successful."
Sturridge gave himself a chance to save and extend his Liverpool career by reporting fit and ready for preseason in the United States. How did he measure a successful campaign for himself after two tough years?
"Let's see what the future holds," he said. "I'm not going to say anything. I'm not going to talk myself up. I'm not going talk about what I plan to do, or what the team is going to do. I think a successful season for the club is us winning trophies. That's what it's about. I think everyone bases success on silverware at the end of the day. So that's what we aim to do.
"We've been close a lot of times. I was not with the club last season. They got to a final. Previous to that, we'd been to two finals. I think we want to take the next step. And I think that's important for the club, for us as a group of players who have been so close and almost achieved so much. We want to be able to feel that silverware in our hands and have that joy that we've been waiting for, because we've had a lot of down times, too, where we've lost out on trophies.
"That's how I feel about my success. If I win a trophy with Liverpool, I feel successful."