Sturridge 'backing up greats claim'

Daniel Sturridge believes he is finally living up to the hype that surrounded him when he announced he wanted to become one of football's greats four years ago.

At his unveiling as a Chelsea player in 2009 Sturridge took some by surprise when he outlined his lofty ambitions.

"If a player said he didn't want to be one of the greats in football, then he would be lying because everyone wants to make a stamp on football," Sturridge, then 19, said at Chelsea's training ground.

To many it seemed too cocky a statement for a player who had just three years of professional football and five Barclays Premier League starts under his belt.

Sturridge floundered at Chelsea - mainly because he was played out of position - and the player concedes he may have given people room to question his attitude.

"Maybe my press conference put me on the back foot a little bit in the way people perceived me," the striker said.

"I have always been confident in my abilities, but sometimes you get misunderstood, and that's probably the perception I gave everyone.

"People were thinking: 'he is saying this and he has not proved himself' or not done anything to say what he's said.

"In the past I have maybe not been given the opportunity to back up what I have said but now I am getting that opportunity."

Four years after giving that press conference, and Sturridge is a much more mellow person in front of the media.

He has every reason to be as confident as he was that day, though, as his form suggests he has the potential to become one of England's top strikers for the remainder of the decade.

The 24-year-old has found a new lease of life since moving to Liverpool, scoring 21 goals in 29 games after starting regularly in the central striker role he has always enjoyed the most.

Sturridge has formed what he described as a "telepathic" partnership with Luis Suarez since his move to Merseyside.

The Liverpool man now hopes he can build a similar understanding with Rooney.

"It can definitely be as good," he says of his partnership with the Manchester United striker.

"Wazza is a world-class player and it is easy to play with him.

"I enjoy playing with him. We complement each other's game.

"In training, it is almost like we don't need to work on things. We know where we are, where team-mates are, look over your shoulder and see your team-mate."

Sturridge has a host of relatives past and present who have been involved in football.

His father Michael was signed by Sir Alf Ramsey at Birmingham in 1978 while uncle Simon was on the books at Stoke.

The most well-known relative is his uncle Dean, who played for Derby for 10 years.

"Everyone still calls me Dean," Sturridge says before cackling with laughter.

"It's not a problem. I'm cool, I'm like: 'okay, I'm Dean then'."

Sturridge's father used to show him old videos of some of the game's greatest players like Pele and Maradona on Betamax at the family home in Birmingham.

The Liverpool man now hopes to carve out a World Cup legacy of his own.

Sturridge missed out on a trip to Rio last summer because of an ankle injury he suffered just before England flew out to play the first match in the rebuilt Maracana.

After spending the summer holidays hobbling around on crutches and a rather sweaty protective boot, he is determined to make it to Brazil for next year's World Cup.

Sturridge is so keen to show Hodgson his true worth against a top side that he is ready to play through the pain barrier when Germany come to Wembley on Tuesday.

A thigh injury kept Sturridge out of England's 2-0 defeat to Chile last week, and even though the problem has not fully healed, he is desperate to line up against the Germans next week.

He said: "This thigh injury has been lingering for a while and it's still frustrating me but I'm going to put the shirt on and try and perform as best as I can.

"I have been playing with it for the last couple of games and it has been hindering my performance.

"I had a scan and the scan showed it was similar to what it was before but it is not a problem for me.

"I am raring to go for the game. I am delighted that the pain is not as bad and I am looking forward to it."

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