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Hard work pays off as brave Sturridge earns England call

8:42 PM IST 18/05/16
England's Euro 2016 squad | Daniel Sturridge
The 26-year-old marksman's unique personality has helped him fend off his injury hell this season and earn a spot in the Three Lions' Euro 2016 provisional squad

Roy Hodgson released his 26-man England Euro 2016 squad this week and Daniel Sturridge’s inclusion was no shock, with teen sensation Marcus Rashford providing the wildcard. Sturridge has cemented his place in the England setup through his drive to return from injury stronger than ever, proving that success isn’t born, it’s made.

The forward constantly exhibits his emotions, be it irritation at not being selected, annoyance when substituted, glee at getting the better of another goalkeeper, appreciation of an intelligent pass or vexation following a poor performance.

There is no sanitisation, no cover-up and no special show: Sturridge is simply who he is, which has helped make him what he is - “an unbelievable player,” as his Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp described.

Individualism is not always welcome in a game where the collective is king, but in an era where everything around the sport is carefully constructed and players feel so walled off, the striker’s originality is refreshing.

He does not deliver the copy-and-paste lines most footballers offer in interviews, he does not shy away from being honest and admirable, he never feels pressure to be something he is not.

Sturridge is brave and confident enough to live outside the game’s bubble, knowing his love for music and fashion, for example, do not detract from his dedication to his job.

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His dad, Michael, was also on the books of Birmingham City but had more success running a training school. He’d line up session after session with his son, working on Sturridge’s weaker right foot, his dribbling ability as well as his finishing.  

When he wasn’t undertaking drills, the Liverpool No. 15 would consume videos, mostly of Brazil great Pele, as he visualised the kind of player he wanted to be.

While speaking for Hugo Boss Fragrances as the representative for the new 'Success isn't born. It's made' campaign for Boss Bottled, Sturridge said: “When you know what you can do, you have everything in your power to push for what you need to achieve your goals."

Sturridge’s approach has not altered much. In his efforts to build up his body’s strength and resistance, the luminary has not had a day off since returning to action in January. He has tallied up extra hours in Melwood’s expansive gym area, the indoor-outdoor facility as well as devoted more time to recovery sessions.

Sturridge’s commitment is unquestionable, as is his quality.

He stands out, and so he should. He is a phenomenal forward, with an enviable goal-to-games ratio and an absorbing personality.

Football is largely about expression, and few are able to fully reveal themselves like Sturridge.