Former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has spoken of the importance of striking the correct life balance as a footballer and having outside interests and pursuits, saying ‘You have more time at home than you do at work. I think it’s important to have a fine balance between playing the game and things which keep you excited outside of the game’. 

In a new episode of ‘Between The Lines’ podcast, Sturridge spoke exclusively with host Melissa Reddy in a wide-ranging interview, discussing his impending fatherhood, his joy for his former Liverpool team mates’ Premier League triumph last season and his troubles with injuries throughout his career.

Early in the interview, Sturridge spoke of his personal interests outside of football, in music and the fashion industry, pointing out the need for footballers to find a life balance that works for them.

Daniel Sturridge: If we have training we have to report at say 10am. If training starts at 10.30am, you’re probably done by… some guys, honestly, they could be out the building by 12.30pm in their car on the way home. So there’s only really three hours that you’re at work on some days. So you have a lot more hours during the day to do whatever you want to do, as a human. We’re all humans at the end of the day. 

“You have more time at home than you do at work. So how do you manage your time away from football? What’s going to keep you busy? What sort of things do you do to keep you firstly engaged in football, but also you need that down time, because that’s what’s going to give your brain a rest, to take your mind off the game sometimes? Because sometimes you do get consumed by football. I think it’s important to have a fine balance between playing the game and, you know, your family and your friends, and things which keep you excited outside of the game, because football won’t last forever, as football players too, so we need to improve as people because a lot of people, when they do retire, it becomes difficult. It’s like, what do I do now? I’ve only ever played and focused on football. I’ve only ever lived it, breathed it, dreamed it. You know, that’s all I’ve ever done. So what do I do now? And that’s the fine balance I think that you have to do in order to I think just stay positive as a person. Because if things don’t go well in football, how do you deal with that, if that’s all you know, and all you’re consumed by. 

Melissa Reddy: “I know a lot of players hide their hobbies and just put out generic training pictures and match action on their social media platforms, for example, because they do not want to show people what else they’re into, because, if ever there’s a bad performance, it will be put down to what else they like beyond football. Did you ever find yourself getting judged because you were into music and fashion, especially maybe when you weren’t on top form?” 

Sturridge: “I think sometimes, yeah, but also you have to understand that there is a level of expectation from fans and the media that you have to only be concentrating on football, and that’s what you get paid for and that’s what you should be focusing on. But I just want to open people’s minds to understand that everyone has a job – you have a job, you’ve put your all into the media world, but you have hobbies too. There’s things you like to do outside of work when you go home, you might like to read books or like to play bowling, or hang with friends and chill, or cook, or play table tennis. Whatever it is that you do, there’s always going to be things which you have as hobbies. So when I feel like football players get judged a little bit on things like this, it’s because there’s that expectation to just stay focused on the job, but I think people have to open their minds to it and say ‘well if I had 9-10 hours in a day, what would I do with that?'” 

Elsewhere in the interview, Sturridge discussed his difficulties with injuries throughout his career, saying that he’s always been willing to put his body on the line for the team, even if not fully fit.

Reddy: “I want to touch on, I think, one of the toughest periods for footballers is when you’re having to deal with injuries. A lot of the guys say the most taxing element isn’t actually the physical side of it, but the mental side of it, because rehabilitation is so gruelling. But to not be able to do the thing you want to do, and to have to deal with that mentally every day is quite a thing.” 

Sturridge: “Yeah. I mean, I saw a quote from (Marco) Reus the other day which said he’d pay any amount of money to just play injury free and never be injured. And honestly, I’d do the same. You know, I would. I would pay any amount of money. I’d 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 has to be in the best shape possible. And sometimes, you can do, you can put the hours in, you can do everything. But sometimes it is just luck.  

“And the toughest thing is just the mental side of things 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 in your mind. You’ve done everything – those small one per cents. 

“And when you go through an injury the mental side of it is very tough because, if you’re not strong mentally, injuries will continue to break you and continue to send you down a dark path. I fortunately always was able to stay focused, always was able to continue to move forward and say, you know what, I’ve picked up a little bit of a knock, but I’ll be back in this time. I’ll be out on the pitch again. 

“I’ve been someone who’s played on injuries too and put my body on the line for the team on countless, countless occasions. Played with injuries, played with even muscle strains, which, you know, is almost impossible to do, and I’ve walked over the white lines. I even remember scoring goals while you have muscle strain, which, again, is one of the hardest things you can do. You can’t maybe sprint as much as you want or shoot as hard as you want. I remember having a muscle strain and we played against Man United for Liverpool at home. We won 1-0 and I scored a header. And nobody knew this but before the match, I had a quad strain, I knew I was injured and the team knew I was injured, but I put my body on the line. That’s something I’ve always done. I’ve always put my body on the line. Sometimes the notion of, oh, do I go through the hard things to push myself or do I put my body on the line for the team. And absolutely, I’ve always done that. I’ve always put my body through everything to put the shirt on for the team, because it’s what I love.” 

You can listen to the full interview with Daniel Sturridge in the third episode of ‘Between The Lines with Melissa Reddy’ now – available here.