WITH 24 leagues goals in 30 appearances since joining Liverpool just over a year ago, Daniel Sturridge is part of the league’s deadliest strike partnership and has established himself as something of a favourite with supporters. He spoke exclusively to us for issue 7 of The Anfield Wrap magazine.

#TAWMAG 7 - CoverIn the interview, which you’ll be able to hear as well as read, Sturridge explained how vital he considers that relationship with the supporters to be: “For me, it’s important to have everybody’s support and everybody’s backing. It means a lot to me to have the fans on my side. I just do my best to put a smile on their faces and make them happy.

“In football, it can be glamorised a lot in terms of people think they are better than someone else, but we’re all the same – everybody is the same. A fan is the same as me. Just because you pay to watch me play doesn’t mean that I’m a star. I’ve been in the position of a fan – I am a fan. I love the banter, I love the vibe and I love everything about playing the game.”

The £12m fee Liverpool paid to bring Sturridge from Chelsea in last year’s January window is a mere fraction of his current worth, the move to Anfield finally realising the potential the player had shown since his days as a teenager at Manchester City.

The move to Anfield has allowed him to express himself more, on and off the field: “When I was at Chelsea I wasn’t myself,” he says. “I wasn’t me as a person in terms of how open I am – I was in my shell a lot. It’s hard to explain, but I was never myself in interviews. I always felt like I wasn’t relaxed there – I always felt that I couldn’t be myself and was always on edge.

“I couldn’t be myself in terms of everything. When I came here I made the point to myself, ‘You know what, Daniel, just be yourself’ and if people take it well, then good. In interviews when I’m bantering – that’s just me, I like to laugh and joke, I don’t like to be serious.

“A lot of people are extremely serious and maybe in the past I’ve tried to be serious and be someone that I wasn’t. I’m just a guy who likes to enjoy and be happy and not worried about the pressure of doing an interview right or being a certain way. I just thought it was right when I moved to Liverpool to be myself.”

Where there times at Chelsea where he thought he might not make it? “I always thought I’d make it but I was never sure if I’d play as a striker because people didn’t believe in me,” he explained.

“I was often asked to play in a different position and to do a job for the team but having been a striker and then being asked to just flick a switch and play on the wing was always going to be difficult because mentally you’re going to play the way you always have and I play on instinct.

Sturridge scores at Villa Park (Pic: David Rawcliffe / Propaganda)

Sturridge scoring against Aston Villa earlier in the season (Pic: David Rawcliffe / Propaganda)

“I think that now I’m just playing the way that I did as a kid but I’d never had the chance to do that. When I was playing as a winger at Chelsea I was over-thinking it because I wasn’t used to doing it. It’s about that split second when you have to decide whether you do this or do that whereas now I’m just playing on instinct. I’m just doing the natural thing, playing my natural game and doing things off the cuff.

“Some of the goals that I have scored have just been something that happens. Like the goal against Aston Villa, it happened so fast that I had to watch a video of it afterwards to see what I’d done. It’s strange, a lot of things that have happened in games I look back and have to ask myself what actually happened because it’s all happened so fast.

“You do things, and you carry on and then you look back and you think, ‘Wow, that was decent!’.”

There’s much more from Sturridge in the latest issue of The Anfield Wrap’s digital magazine, available later today on iTunes for iPad and iPhone and from tomorrow from app.theanfieldwrap.com for Android, Windows and other devices.

#TAWMAG 7 - Cover