Daniel Sturridge credits his renewed confidence and comfort at Liverpool for the goal of the season contender he notched against West Brom at Anfield last month.
With the Reds 3-1 ahead at home to the Baggies, the No. 15 collected possession 35 yards from goal, skipped past a defender and lofted a precise finish over the goalkeeper and into the top corner.
A masterpiece of striking play, the effort scooped the club’s Goal of the Month award — his second of the season already — and further embellished a record which shows the Englishman has scored 21 times in 29 games for Liverpool.
As the 24-year-old prepares for England’s international exhibition with Germany on Tuesday night and another chance to prove his credentials before next summer’s FIFA World Cup, Sturridge believes he now has a licence to express himself.
“In the past I wouldn’t have gone for that,” he told reporters. “Maybe I would have cut back or tried to play someone in, or took a normal shot.
“But when you feel more comfortable and confident you do try things you maybe wouldn’t have done.
“Now I’m more comfortable and doing things off the cuff again. With the chip I just looked up and thought: ‘I’m going to go for it.’
“I learned that one from Deco at Chelsea, where he’d do it a lot in training. It’s started coming off for me, too, and it’s important to try things.
“Sometimes you have to try these things and play without risk. As a youngster that’s how it was. You tried to express yourself out on the pitch as much as you can.”
After leading the line for Liverpool at the beginning of the 2013-14 campaign, Sturridge has since gelled perfectly in partnership with club teammate Luis Suarez — with both capable of fulfilling a variety of attacking demands.
It’s a challenge the former Manchester City and Chelsea forward is more than happy to accept, and he has no plans to slow down his rapid progress in this calendar year either.
“It’s important to mix it up,” he added. “When I was younger, I used to wear No. 10 but I liked playing as a nine so it was kind of weird.
“When I was younger, I liked to watch players who dropped deep and pick the ball up like Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s something I naturally do.
“I’m still working on my game as much as I can now, on strength and my left, but I’m playing in a position where I can play my natural game. I’m just really happy getting opportunities.”
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com