Daniel Sturridge today explained why he is elated to have signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool and then insisted: ‘You haven’t seen the best of me yet.‘
The striker put pen to paper on a deal at Melwood on Friday afternoon to commit his future to the Reds.
As the ink was still drying, Sturridge sat down with Liverpoolfc.com for an exclusive chat in which he explained why he didn’t have to think twice about signing the contract, spoke of his appreciation to Brendan Rodgers for the influence he’s had since moving to Anfield, and delivered a special message to Reds fans around the world…
Daniel, congratulations on signing a new long-term deal with Liverpool Football Club. How do you feel to have committed your future to the club?
It feels great. It’s a big, big day in my life to commit to this club and to give the club my best years, which are ahead of me. I am thankful for the opportunity and that is the reason I committed my future. Everyone has been great with me, from the fans to the staff to the players, so it was an easy decision. I’m happy with how everything is going.
How important was Brendan Rodgers in your decision to sign this new contract?
Huge. With the opportunity he has given me, with everything that has gone on since I’ve been here, I’ve improved as a footballer – and also as a guy, as well, from working with him and having a working relationship with him. He’s great with all the players, not just myself, but I’ve improved everything, every aspect. You can always improve as a footballer and you have to be willing to learn. That’s the kind of person I am and the manager has helped me to improve, so I am grateful for the opportunity he’s given me. I’m also grateful to the club – everyone behind the scenes who have given me the chance to be here.
So it’s fair to say Brendan’s been a big influence on your career so far?
Yes, I’d say so. Since I’ve come in here, he’s put his faith in me and played me in a central role – which I’ve always been asking for throughout my career. To come here and get the chance to do it at such a great, illustrious club [is an honour]. We were so close to success last season and it was a bitter pill to take not winning the league, but that’s just a taster of what the fans will get – but hopefully this time we’ll have the trophies to show for it. Everyone is very obsessive in terms of wanting success and being winners. That’s what we are – that’s the Liverpool Way. It’s the Liverpool way of life. The way the manager wants us to implement his style, his football, I think we will have success in the future and I’m just looking forward to those days when we’ll be lifting trophies and celebrating.
You’ve been here for around 20 months now. Can you describe what this club means to you?
I feel very much part of it now. I’m used to the city now and the fans have been great with me. They’ve helped me to settle in and in the streets they’ve always been kind. Besides that, the fans, the players, the manager, everybody since I’ve joined this club has been great with me and I’m thankful. I’m very grateful for it because before I was here, I was at Chelsea and I was in and out, and I wasn’t getting opportunities. To come here and play, to have the fans behind me, people believing in me and giving me an opportunity, it’s a great feeling. I just want to be able to repay the fans, repay the management, repay the club and everybody that is behind me and the team.
You said earlier you felt like you have developed both on and off the pitch during your time here at Liverpool. In what ways do you feel you have changed?
In terms of on the pitch, everything – from tactical to technical. The lot. Off the pitch, it’s managing my downtime. When I lived in London, I was always at home and now it is exactly the same – I’m always at home and relaxing. It’s those little one per cents, little things like recoveries and seeing someone like Steve Peters. I’d never seen anyone like him before, but seeing someone like him is another thing that helped. It was something the manager suggested I do. I wasn’t really for it at the beginning but after a while I thought ‘Why not? I’ll give it a go’ and it helped. There are a lot of things I’m happy with how they’ve gone so far, but there is a lot to come. I’ve not shown yet what I can do – what I’m doing is just the start for me. I may have had some good games and scored some goals, but literally this is the beginning in terms of what I can show. I don’t feel I’ve shown really what I can do as a footballer. I am looking forward to the hard work, the training, the games and everything – and looking forward to the future. This is something I’ve always dreamt of in terms of playing week in, week out at a big club and having great teammates around me, with a fantastic manager. The playing style suits the way I play. I’m looking forward to the future.
Your goal record speaks for itself – 36 goals in just 52 games. Is there a chance for you – and a real ambition – to establish yourself as a striking legend at this club?
It’s going to be a difficult task because there are so many! The fans have had songs for Kenny Dalglish and they still live on. The same with Robbie Fowler. Even at away games, sometimes you’ll hear them singing songs about Ian Rush. Luis [Suarez’s] song was always sung last season, so hopefully I’ll have a song one day as well – and not just a song, to go down as one of the best players is always great. It’s something every player wants, whether or not they say it out loud. Every player wants to be recognised as one of the best to have played for their club. It’s going to be a difficult task because there are so many who have done it before [me] and there’ll be so many who do it after. I’m just grateful to God for everything that has come my way; I’m humbled by it and I’m thankful. I always pray and give God the glory, and that’s the most important thing, for me – to have faith in God.
Just finally, you mentioned it earlier, but you do have a special relationship with the fans. For those reading this interview, what is your message to them today?
I just want to let them know that I am one of them. Maybe people get the way I am as a person, or they may get mixed up over things they’ve heard – but when everybody meets me, they realise that I always like to stop and have banter with the fans in the street, and a laugh and a joke. I am one of them – I am a normal guy, I’m humble and I’m no different to any of the fans. Without them, football wouldn’t be the same, let alone me as a person. I’m grateful to them for all they’ve done and all they’ll do in the future for me. I’m thankful to God as well for giving me the opportunity and to my family, the club and everyone that has helped me out to become who I am today. As I said, to the fans I am thankful, I am one of you guys and I hope we can enjoy some success together in the future.