Sport

My Mentor: Daniel Sturridge

The England and Liverpool striker pays tribute to his football coach dad

Michael Sturridge wasn’t just my father, he was my coach.

From an early age he started coaching me, improving my game, identifying weaknesses. He’s been there ever since. His advice has been the best I’ve had. He tells me how it is – what I need to hear.

He was a good footballer, too.

He played for Birmingham City in the late-Eighties, then he went to Finland to finish his career. He was also a scout for Aston Villa and Coventry. From the age of seven he was training me, giving me lots of advice in terms of skill. He coached other players too, including Nathan Delfouneso who’s now at Blackpool. He had a soccer school at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena; we had loads of kids come through. I remember looking forward to going there on Saturdays.

There are skills I still do now that he taught me.

Little skills that are second nature to me that might seem abnormal to others. I learnt them through repetition from the age of seven from his coaching sessions. We trained very hard. All the other kids did too. It was a great time growing up, learning so many things. The best advice he gave me was to make the most of each day as you’ll never get it back. Another was to never fear anybody because we’re all under God’s will. It doesn’t matter if someone’s bigger or stronger than you, we’re all human – they’ll always have a weakness you can take advantage of.

It’s great having a mentor that’s not just my dad, but my friend.

He’s not involved in football now, he just completely focuses on me and my career. He’s based down south. I speak to him on the phone every day and see him a couple of times a week. My mum is a huge inspiration to me, too. My uncle, Dean Sturridge, also gives me a lot of advice – I speak to him every couple of days. He’s someone that’s helped me out over the past few years. Prior to that he was playing for Wolves and Queens Park Rangers. We’re a close-knit footballing family.

Now I’m the one giving advice.

I like to talk to the younger players at Liverpool, help them feel comfortable and to express themselves as best they can. When you’re growing up as a footballer you don’t often meet older ones willing to give you advice.

Daniel Sturridge is a Sainsbury’s ambassador, encouraging children to lead healthier lifestyles; sainsburys.co.uk/activekids

(Image: Getty)