Former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has opened up on the mental strain of suffering injuries, admitting he would have parted with “any amount of money” to play without any setbacks or residual pain.
The 31-year-old, currently a free agent and in optimum physical condition having spent all of lockdown priming for his next club, has been tireless in his quest to thwart serious and persistent muscle issues.
Sturridge referenced a sentiment he’d seen from Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus - a superb player, but one not regularly available - to capture how far he’d be willing to go to sidestep injuries.
During a wide-ranging interview with The Independent’s Melissa Reddy on her Behind The Lines podcast, he said: “I saw a quote from Reus the other day saying he’d pay any amount of money to just play injury-free or never be injured.
“And honestly, I’d do the same. I would pay any amount of money. I already spend loads of money outside of the physios at work to do extra stuff to ensure that I can be as healthy as possible.
“Hundreds of thousands, to be fair, you know, to make sure that my body can be in the best shape possible. And sometimes, you can put the hours in, you can do everything, but… it is just bad luck.
“The toughest thing is just the mental side, because you know you've given your all, you know you slept well, you know you ate well.
“You know you've got the treatment that you need to get everything right. You've done everything. No one percent is left so when you go through an injury, the mental side of it is very tough - it can continue to break you and send you down a dark path.
“I've been someone who has played on with injuries, putting my body on the line for the team on countless occasions.
“I go through the hard things to push myself for the team. I've always done that.”
During a lengthy exclusive, Sturridge also opened up on other human elements of the game that can often be overlooked.
He has been particularly proud to see players - especially young, black men - feel emboldened to stand up for what they believe in.
The forward, who also turned out for Manchester City and Chelsea, reserved special praise for Marcus Rashford’s fight to end child hunger in the UK.
“There's been a lot of things that has happened in the past that people haven't been so vocal about,” he said. “But I'm proud to see players from different backgrounds around the world being more vocal about things that they are passionate about or won't turn a blind eye to. I think it's very powerful.
“I think athletes have a big voice that is heard and it is a beautiful thing to see these guys campaign. And everybody has stood in solidarity around Black Lives Matter and that's something we'll continue.
“Rashford has done an incredible job so far, and I'm sure he's going to continue doing that. I've got a lot of respect for him. I saw a report where he said that it's not about which team you play for, it’s about what's right. And I think in a football world, sometimes we get caught up in allegiances.
“It's shouldn’t be because I support a different team that that means I don't like that guy. And anything he does, I don't like it. It shouldn't be like that. It should be more about if somebody is doing something that I appreciate, I'm going to say kudos to you like you've done an amazing job and I'm grateful for you actually doing this.
“I think a lot of kids around the UK, regardless of where they're from, what team they support - and not just them, but their families - are going to be absolutely delighted and grateful that somebody like Marcus Rashford would go out of his way to help them have a better life, especially during quarantine, with families going through a lot of financial difficulties.”
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