IMPROVING: Sturridge (Photo credit: Ken Passley)
DANIEL STURRIDGE has emerged as one of the Premier League’s most lethal finishers this season, but according to the man who knows him best, there is still much more to come.
The 22-year-old bloomed in the second half of last season while on-loan at Bolton, dispatching eight goals in 12 games for the Trotters.
Enriched with the confidence that accompanies playing regular football, the former Manchester City starlet returned to Stamford Bridge determined to make an impact on the Chelsea first-team.
Sturridge moved to the club in 2009, but had been viewed as a player for the future, and was eased into the team.
But his goals and displays this term, from his unnatural position of the right wing, have helped to earn him an England cap and made him the leading scorer at the club.
Yet for the man who spotted the precocious talent in Sturridge, we are only seeing a fraction of what the uniquely talented striker has to offer.
“He can actually show you a lot more,” Michael Sturridge, Daniel’s father explains to the Voice of Sport.
“I think with the experience [he gains] and playing regularly in the Premiership, you are going to see a better player because he will get stronger.
“When he plays in his natural position, which is a central striker, you will see maybe two or three times as much of the player that you now see playing on the wings at the moment.
“When you have seen someone play from under-9s right up to adult football as a central striker, and then suddenly you see them playing a different position that you have never seen him play. Obviously you know, the position he played in as a youngster, is the one he will be more comfortable in.
“Once he is in that position, I expect you will see a major improvement. In terms of potential, we have to see him play in that position to see how far he can go in the game.”
The Sturridge’s are a family steeped in football. Michael’s brothers, Dean and Simon, played at Stoke and Derby, respectively.
Michael, too, was a signed as a professional by Sir Alf Ramsey for Birmingham but despite their endeavour and commitment to the game, but it was the new generation of the Sturridge footballing dynasty that gained full international honours.
“It was an exciting moment for all the family,” his father added. “When you have been watching your son play football from a very young age from all the way up to becoming a professional footballer, and then to see him represent his country is a fantastic feeling, and an honour for the family.”
Away from the pitch, Sturridge has indulged in his passion for Dancehall music by setting up the record label, Cous Entertainment, in Jamaica with his cousin, emerging producer Octavius Muir, known as Vigor.
SHOWING LOVE: Deejay Sizzla displays his signed Sturridge top
It’s is pleasant distraction from the stresses of Premier League combat, and something that he tries to take as much as a hands on role in, as possible.
Last year, the label enjoyed some success when their artist Higher Tone made a splash of the competitive Jamaican Dancehall scene with his track, drop it to the floor.
Vigor, though, believes that could be the catalyst for further success for Cous Entertainment.
“We want to work with some of the biggest acts in Jamaica like Sizzla, Beanie Man and Sean Paul,” he said. “But also some of the biggest names in the music industry like Jay-Z and Beyonce.”
BACKIN HIS FRIEND: Beenie Man shows off his shirt
The Chelsea striker’s affinity with the land of his ancestors is clear, which is crystalized through his regular visits to the idyllic Caribbean island.
“Every year, we go over to see our big extended family and visit places like Greenwich Farm, Gregory Park and Waterford,” continued his father.
“We’ve looked at a few sites over there for a soccer school, which is something we hope to do in conjunction with the Government. Hopefully that comes to fruition and we can put something back.
“We are descendants of Jamaican’s, and although Daniel loves pulling on the Three Lions jersey, he has a strong affinity with Jamaica. The lads over there just need the right platform and coaching because they have the talent.”