Recently I was digging into some of the old, and admittedly, tight-fitting Liverpool shirts I had packed away in an old closet. I came across an old 13/14 away shirt with STURRIDGE on the back. This shirt certainly brought back a slew of memories. He was a player that I thought at the time was on his way to being a surefire Liverpool legend. In truth, however ridiculous it sounds, Sturridge was one of my favorites to put on the shirt. His 13/14 campaign arguably put him in the conversation as one of the club’s best-ever finishers. However, that season was the last we’d see of prime Daniel Sturridge.
Let me refresh your memory real quick. Daniel Sturridge was brought in during the January transfer window from Chelsea in 2013. For a Liverpool side floundering in mid-table, we were in dire need of a spark.
It’s safe to say that there are few players who’ve had the immediate impact Sturridge had. He netted 11 times in 16 appearances for the Reds that year. This cemented him as a key player in Brendan Rodgers’ side. However, as good as his start was it was just an appetizer for what was to come.
A Starring Role
The aforementioned 2013-14 season was certainly an unforgettable one for us Liverpool fans. Our men came oh so close to winning the title that year with Sturridge being a massive part of that. The numbers speak for themselves. Daniel had 24 goals in all competitions as he formed the deadly SAS partnership with newcomer Luis Suarez.
Obviously, the season ended in heartbreak. But the fact that the Reds were in the mix until the very end was due to the stellar play of the attack. It is one of the more unfortunate things in Liverpool’s recent history that this squad didn’t bring home the Premier League title.
Injuries And Decline
The 2014-15 season began with the untimely departure of Suarez. This increased the burden on Sturridge to provide goals and lead Liverpool’s line. Unfortunately, this is where his injury woes would begin. Sturridge made just 18 appearances all season for the club.
This trend continued over the coming years. There was a glimmer of hope in 2015-16 as Sturridge played a vital role in Liverpool’s run to the League Cup and Europa League final. Who could forget that stunner against Basel? But after that, Sturridge would only hit the back of the net 14 more times over his final three seasons at Anfield.
Injuries crept up on him at every turn. No matter how good a run of games the England international seemed to have, a complication here or a rotating knock there would sideline him indefinitely. The frustration for both Sturridge and supporters was evident. This unreliability fitness-wise proved too big a detriment to consider him a nailed-on starter.
The Sturridge Legacy
Whatever you might think of Daniel Sturridge and his career, there’s no doubt that injuries robbed us of a world-class player. At his pomp, Sturridge’s speed, attacking instinct, finishing ability, and flair put him among the very best forwards to have graced Liverpool with their presence.
Fate has a way of throwing a curveball every once in a while though. In this instance, it held back our dancing dynamo from being one of the best at his position and one of Liverpool’s all-time greats. At the end of the day, all we can do is imagine what a player he might’ve been.