Haircut: check. Sanity: check. Fitness … pending. The longest two weeks of Daniel Sturridge’s life are, mercifully, over. So too, it seems, is the time for jokes and banter.
The former Liverpool star was all business on Monday as he was presented to the media for the first time – in person, at least – as a Perth Glory player and the A-League’s newest marquee attraction.
Daniel Sturridge poses with Perth Glory owner Tony Sage (left) and CEO Tony Pignata after finally escaping hotel quarantine.Credit:Getty
Sturridge might have been bored out of his mind but made plenty of headlines during his stint in hotel quarantine. First, he publicly lamented the need for having to do it at all as a fully-vaxxed traveller. Then came his tongue-in-cheek search for an experienced barber in Perth. “Only put your CV forward if you’re top level. Shaky hands I rebuke you,” he wrote on Twitter last week.
But it seems the only headlines Sturridge is interested in creating now are ones about him helping the Glory win games. The 32-year-old confirmed he was fit and ready for their A-League opener on Saturday night against Adelaide United, but deferred all questions about how much he’d play to his new coach, Richard Garcia, and toned the swagger right down.
“I’m available,” Sturridge said.
“Of course it’s difficult in quarantine to train – you can’t play football or do anything that is natural to a football player. Now it’s about getting match fit and being in football shape again.
It’s been a long time since Daniel Sturridge’s last pro match, but he insists he’s ready to go for Perth’s season opener on Saturday.Credit:Getty
“Two weeks is a long time to not play football for any player, so I’m sure with the training with the team I’ll be able to adjust this week. Then it’s up to the manager to decide how much involvement I have this weekend, but I’m excited and ready to help the team.”
Humility is probably the right approach for Sturridge, lest he builds up hype he’s unable to deliver upon.
Daniel Sturridge during his peak Liverpool days.Credit:AP
At his peak, he was one of the very best strikers in the world. Indeed, the A-League has not seen a player of his calibre or profile since Alessandro Del Piero joined Sydney FC in 2012 – a move that was engineered by then-CEO Tony Pignata, who incidentally now runs the Glory.
But Sturridge’s peak was a long time ago. His last professional game was in February 2020 for Turkish club Trabonzpor. Not since 2013-14 has he put together more than 30 games in a season. And as many Reds fans will know, the list of injury setbacks he’s suffered in his career could fill out the White Pages.
“It’s about taking it day by day and not putting any timeframes or time limits on how long it’s going to take or how quickly I need to be right,” he said. “It’s about whenever the manager feels I’m ready to perform. That’s when I’ll be involved.”
The Glory are hoping to sell out all of HBF Park’s 20,500 seats for Saturday’s match. Unless Premier Mark McGowan loosens WA’s border restrictions, it’ll be Perth’s last at home until mid-January.
Either way, there will be thousands of eyes in Australia – and plenty more abroad, as well – watching his every move, waiting to see if his notoriously flimsy body will let him play the same sort of football he was once capable of.
“I don’t feel nervous at all. I’ve been doing this my whole life,” he said.
“To be honest, it’s more excitement than anything else. I’ve played this game since I was four years old, maybe. We’re talking 28 years of doing something that you love – and I don’t see this as work, I see this is my life. This is what I love doing. This is what I’m passionate about. This is everything I’ve dreamt of doing and everything I live for.
“For me, it’s just a privilege and an honour to be able to perform on a football pitch and represent Perth Glory.”
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