Challenge SPORT

By Andrew Halloway

The praying footballer

Liverpool and England footballer Daniel Sturridge has regularly made the sport pages for thanking God when he scores.

After he scored for England against Italy at the Brazil World Cup, proficient lip-readers detected Daniel declaring, "I love you, Jesus. I will praise your name for ever".

Daniel Sturridge
Daniel Sturridge at a training session in Liverpool in February 2017. (Photo: Getty Images)

The player says his most prized possession is his Bible. "It's important to me," he says.

"I believe that you have to pray, as well as work hard, in order to get what you want in life. When I was growing up I prayed every morning and night – and I still do that today."

Enjoying the best form of his career, the England international says his impressive performances this season have been a blessing from God.

"At the moment, things are going well and I've been blessed by God to have this sort of form and my faith in God has got me to where I am today," Daniel told TheFA.com.

But he puts the work in too: "Hard work is what it's all about. It's important to work hard. It's important to do your job and give everything on the football field until the end of the game and that's what I try to do."

Daniel's goal-scoring partnership with Luis Suarez has been dubbed the SAS (Suarez And Sturridge), or the 'Dynamic Duo'. By mid-March last year the pair had secured 45 goals for their club in all competitions.

When Daniel moved from Chelsea to Liverpool, and marked his home debut for the club with a goal, it seems he found a new freedom on the pitch.

He said: "I'm relaxed, I'm enjoying my football and I'm enjoying being out on the field. When the manager believes in you and gives you an opportunity, you have to go out there and work as hard as you can. If you can do that then, hopefully, your ability will shine through.

"I've kept praying every game – which I always do," he adds. "God showed me how I need to be strong mentally. Being strong mentally is the one thing that can separate you from anyone else. When I worked with Didier Drogba at Chelsea, the one strength he had above everybody was his mental strength. I learned a lot from working with him about what it takes to be a top player. Hopefully I'll become one."

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