Once a golden-boot contender, now a free agent after a betting offence ban, is England’s forgotten footballer due to make a comeback? Alasdair Hooper tells Sturridge’s story.
Daniel Sturridge was once a key player for the England international side but now he is apparently nowhere to be seen.
Rewind back to Euro 2016, and the striker had just finished as Liverpool’s top scorer with 13 goals – despite numerous injury problems – and was part of Roy Hodgson’s squad out in France.
We all know that tournament ended with humiliation against Iceland, but Sturridge still had his moment, scoring the winner against Wales in the group stage.
Now, in 2021, the striker is aged 31 and he hasn’t played a competitive game in over a year.
He has very quickly become England’s forgotten footballer, despite there being a time when many thought he could have developed into a truly brilliant striker.
Having started out at Manchester City, before moving to Chelsea in 2009, Sturridge had often been touted as a player to watch.
After several promising outings for Chelsea – often out of position – his career really burst into life after his move to Liverpool in January 2013.
His first half-season brought 11 goals in 16 appearances, and it looked like everything was finally clicking into gear.
What followed was that famous Liverpool campaign of 2013-14 when the club came so close to winning the title under Brendan Rodgers.
Sturridge was simply brilliant and formed a lethal strike partnership with Luis Suarez. The Englishman ended with 21 Premier League goals, leaving him as runner-up in the Golden Boot, only behind his Uruguayan teammate.
He was also one of six nominated for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year.
Then the upward trajectory stopped. Injuries played their part. His subsequent two seasons were heavily disrupted, although he did still finish as top scorer in that aforementioned 2015-16 Liverpool season.
By this point Jurgen Klopp had taken over and, though it still seems hard to believe, Sturridge spent another three years at Liverpool – although his role was understudy at best.
In that time Sturridge did gain a somewhat unexpected credit to his name – he became the first Englishman to win the Champions League with two different English clubs.
The catch was that he had been an unused substitute in both finals – in 2012 with Chelsea and in 2019 with the Reds.
Following his release from Liverpool in 2019, Sturridge joined Turkish side Trabzonspor and scored seven goals in 16 appearances in all competitions.
But then it all ended acrimoniously. Sturridge was banned from football for four months due to betting offences, specifically for advising his brother to bet on him moving to Sevilla.
As a result, his contract at Trabzonspor was terminated just as the coronavirus pandemic took a grip of the whole world.
With England about to embark on their latest Euro adventure, their former striker is in a very different place to where he was five years ago.
The free agent is, though, reportedly still striving for a comeback, and is working with a team of fitness coaches to try and make that happen.
Sadly, injuries have come to define much of the striker’s career. But, who knows, there could be a club that might benefit from having him as part of their squad.
His time in Turkey showed he still knows how to score; he just needs a club to take a chance on giving him a way back into the professional game.
You can follow Alasdair on Twitter at @adjhooper1992