A rejuvenated Daniel Sturridge is counting the days until he hits the ground running in Australia for the new Isuzu UTE A-League season, with the star striker benefiting from a 19-month stint without competitive football spent honing his craft.
Perth announced the sensational signing of the former Chelsea, Liverpool and England star at the beginning of October, with a visa clearance the only obstacle left to clear before Sturridge departs England in anticipation of a "fantastic opportunity" in the Isuzu UTE A-League.
The 32-year-old is set to join the club as a "better, well-rounded football player" thanks to a consistent training routine Sturridge credits for helping him lose weight and refine his skills while he awaited the perfect opportunity to play once more to arise.
Sturridge found that in Perth, explaining to reporters on Friday evening why a move to the Glory felt right at this time in his career.
"I’m 100% (fit), I have no issues," Sturridge said.
"I’ve been training with Mallorca for the best part of two months, prior to that I was training in America. I’m here in England now, training here and saying my goodbyes to my family.
"This is the longest time I’ve ever had not playing competitive games, but in terms of training I’ve been training the whole time," he added.
"I’ve not let myself go, had time off or had month stretches or anything like that where I’ve not been training. I haven’t really lost any fitness. In fact, I’ve lost weight, I’ve got probably more in shape (outside of quarantine).
When you’re playing games thick and fast you don’t get to focus on the specifics of your body, what you want to work on and so on and so forth because there’s just so many matches.
Whereas I’ve had a lot of time to be able to work on specific things, and just be able to try and hone my craft and become a better, well-rounded football player. I’ve done everything I can do on my side to continue to feel great, and so far it’s working.
READ: Sturridge joins Perth Glory in massive coup for club and Isuzu UTE A-League
MORE: Why Daniel Sturridge has come searching for more Glory
Upon signing for Perth on October 1, Sturridge put an end to a 19-month absence from the game which began with his departure from Turkish outfit Trabzonspor in March, 2020.
"Speaking to (Glory head coach Richard Garcia), speaking to the hierarchy at the club and the players as well. I felt like it was the right fit for me.
"It just felt as if everything that was said was what I needed, to be honest.
"I feel it was obviously a difficult decision to make, it wasn’t so easy, but I spoke with my partner about it as well and she was excited. I felt in my gut it was the right decision to make.
"Once I spoke to a few people also they gave me a lot of assurances and made me feel it would be an amazing experience.
"From a footballing perspective as well it’s just a fantastic opportunity to go and play some football, and play for a good club that’s trying to achieve something this season.
"It was just about mainly finding somewhere that was the right fit for me. I’ve had a lot of opportunities and a lot of offers over the last 19 months but I didn’t feel like any of them were the right fit.
I made the decision to come to Perth because it felt right. That’s why I’ve decided to come to this wonderful club, and I’m looking forward to the journey starting."
When Sturridge arrives in Perth, gelling with his new teammates and deciphering the individual qualities each player brings to the squad will be on top of his agenda.
Describing himself as a creative player, the Englishman stressed the fact his arrival should not coincide with Garcia ripping up his tactical plans and starting fresh - instead, he's eager to slide into the ready-made style of play the Glory boss has worked hard to establish since he took the reins as head coach ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.
Sturridge says on top of becoming an asset to the Glory squad with his team-oriented approach, he also hopes to get to know the faithful home fans, as he has managed to do anywhere the game has taken him throughout his career.
"I think it’s important for people to see who I am as a person," he says.
"I’m very fan friendly, I like to integrate with the fans. I like to think I’ve had a great relationship with the fans at every club I’ve played with really, and that’s important too.
"Sometimes players ostracise themselves, and feel that it’s best to stay away and not engage sometimes. For me, I’m the opposite. I like to engage with the fans, I like to have banter.
It’s one family at the end of the day. The players give their all on the pitch, the fans give their all in the stands. It’s one family, we’re all in it together and we’re going to need them at every single match this season to be successful."
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