IT’S one of the best signings in A-League history in the eyes of Perth Glory goalkeeper Brad Jones, who is still pinching himself after his new club announced the signature of former Liverpool, Chelsea and England star Daniel Sturridge.
The pair shared a dressing room once before as Liverpool teammates between 2013-15. Throughout that time the former England international proved his immense quality to Jones time after time in both training and games, elevating himself into an esteemed class of players who Jones believes all possess the same crucial attribute: the ability not only to display their class, but to do it on the daily.
It’s a trait Jones hopes Sturridge can put on show in the A-League, to continue to enhance a legacy so far defined by his brilliant stint with the Reds.
“He’s played for Liverpool, he’s played for Chelsea, he’s played for England and he’s scored goals,” Jones told a-league.com.au.
“We’re not talking about a guy that’s past his prime. We’re talking about a guy that is 32, who is hungry because of the position he’s been in recently, and he wants to play. He wants to score goals, and having someone with all those attributes is going to be massive.
“Getting him in now is a coup. You’re not getting a guy that maybe doesn’t have the hunger, you’re getting a massive name for the right reasons, someone that’s looking to contribute.
I honestly still can’t believe the club have managed to pull this off. It’s huge.
“It’s huge for the league, it’s up there with the (Alessandro) Del Piero signing. We don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but I’ve seen his quality… for the league it’s a massive signing.
“He’s a huge player. A huge player. In terms of what the club have managed to achieve in bringing him, this is up there with one of the best signings ever in the A-League.
“His personality and his ability on the pitch I just think will be amazing.”
READ: Sturridge joins Perth Glory in massive coup for club and A-League
MORE: Why Daniel Sturridge has come searching for more Glory
The world joined Jones in watching on in awe as Sturridge combined with Liverpool strike partner Luis Suárez to light up the league in 2013/14 - the Englishman’s most prolific Premier League campaign on record.
Jones was in the match day squad for 37 of 38 games that season as Liverpool were edged out by two points in the race to become Premier League Champions by Manchester City. But despite an absence of trophies, the Sturridge and Suárez combination was an experience to savour for Liverpool fans.
The pair combined for 52 goals and 19 assists to finish second and first respectively in the race for the Golden Boot.
The Kop roared and Anfield shook as Sturridge put his full array of talent on show that season; but away from the shining lights and the public eye was when Jones truly marvelled at the relentless work ethic of the star forward, who he can now call a teammate once more as they reunite in Perth Glory colours ahead of the 2021/22 A-League season.
“At that period the names in that front half of the pitch were incredible,” Jones said.
"Him and Suárez took a lot of the plaudits and rightly so with the incredible amount of goals scored between them.
What I noticed more was the work ethic in training, the consistency, it’s all well and good having a top-quality player but you need a player that can do it every day.
“It’s a special breed of player that can do it on a daily basis, it’s not easy. You can get players that are quick, you can get players that have technique, you can get players that are physically good, the reason why payers become elite at the top is because they can do it all. That’s definitely the bracket that he got himself into.
“Daniel is clever; he’s clever in his movement, his positioning, his touch, and physically he’s quick, he’s strong.
“That side of it is one side you can talk about, but for me he’s a proper striker. He’s always looking for the easy tap in, he can score from outside the box, he can score with his head, he’s just overall quality. He has that bit of everything.”
It’s been six years since Jones and Sturridge last shared a change room, with the former departing Merseyside in May, 2015. But over the past two weeks the pair have “slid into old ways” as Glory called on their new goalkeeper to aid the push to sign the talented striker.
Jones phoned Sturridge at the first time of asking. He was eager to find out whether or not his former teammate was not only willing to move but willing to work, and eager to be part of a successful side.
“It’s what I’ve told people about him coming here… he’s an exceptional signing not just for Perth but for the league,” Jones said.
“If he wasn’t the type of character that I thought would work and the type of person you’d want around then I would have said so.
“As much as you can get big names in, you want big names that will fit and work with the team because at the end of the day you want to win.
“I’ve spoken to him quite a bit. Everything from the general lifestyle here and what he can expect.
“I called him originally and asked the question if he would be interested, I think first and foremost that’s the main thing you need to know - are you willing to come? He was receptive to that.
“I think after that you can sell the club. We’ve got a good group of players, a good coach who wants to play a nice style of football and I think he’ll fit in well. I’m like everyone else, I’m excited for him to arrive so we can see it.”
Sturridge’s move to Perth was made official by the club on the morning of Friday, October 1, as Jones and his teammates convened for another session of pre-season training.
The gloveman felt the excitement in the air that morning after Perth head coach Richard Garcia broke the news to the squad. Jones says the imminent arrival of the Premier League icon will help the playing group raise their standards ahead of what promises to be an exciting A-League season for the team in purple.
“The boys are excited,” he said. “It’s another player added to the ranks, another player of top quality. This season the players will be hoping to use it to push themselves up to another level and hopefully have a great season for the club.
“On the pitch people will see the quality and professionalism he has, that will make others want to raise their bar as well.
When you see someone doing it day in day out, that’s when the penny drops that you have to get to their level.
He’ll certainly be that type of player.”
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