The Graduates: No.21 Daniel Sturridge
- 19 October 2011 10:53
- Posted by Peter Ferguson
Daniel Andre Sturridge was born to be a striker, hailing from a footballing family that included goalscoring uncles Simon and Dean Sturridge.
He arrived at Platt Lane via the round-about route of hometown club Aston Villa and then Coventry City, where he spent a year before joining the Academy in 2003 aged 13.
A year later, he was leading scorer and voted player of the season as City won the Nike Cup, the world's largest under-15 tournament, and at 16, he helped propel City into the 2006 FA Youth Cup final. The youngest player in the side, he scored six goals in all, two of them in the final as City were pipped 3-2 on aggregate by Liverpool.
Having signed a professional contract, he began training with the first team, and a hat-trick in the reserves brought a place on the bench against Reading in February 2007, making his debut in place of Georgios Samaras for the final 15 minutes. A second substitute appearance followed, but a hip injury sidelined him for the rest of 2007.
Sturridge's first goal came on 27 January, 2008 in an FA Cup tie against Sheffield United, followed three days later by his first league goal on his full debut, against Derby County.
While his first-team opportunities were restricted, Sturridge plated a key role once more in the FA Youth Cup, again the leading scorer but this time tasting victory as the Blues overcame Chelsea.
His goal in the first leg was a record-setter, making Sturridge the only player to score in the FA Youth Cup, the FA Cup and the Premier League in the same season.
When his contract expired, he signed for Chelsea on a four-year contract in July, 2009. A transfer tribunal set the initial fee at £3.5million, with additional £500,000 payments for 10, 20, 30 and 40 senior competitive games, plus £1m for his first full England cap.
But his initial impact was less than he had hoped, although he scored his first goals for the club against Watford in the FA Cup third round in January and finished the Cup-winning campaign with four, coming off the bench for time added on at Wembley.
Sturridge was loaned to Bolton in January 2011 and immediately regained his scoring knack, with a goal on his debut against Wolves then three more in his subsequent three appearances. He finished with eight goals from 12 appearances, the only blemish on his record the first red card of his career, against City in the last game of the season.
His prolific spell at the Reebok brought a fresh chance at Stamford Bridge. Sturridge returned to the Chelsea squad for the 2011-12 season to be given more action under new Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas, who has found a role for the left-footed forward on the right flank.