ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has told ESPN FC he can play in the 2022 World Cup for England, and insists he can extend his career at the top level and become a “fine wine” like former Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba.
After spending the second half of last season on loan at relegated West Bromwich Albion, Sturridge missed out on a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the 2018 World Cup.
The 28-year-old, who has scored eight goals in 26 full appearances for England, played five games in the qualifying rounds, including the 1-0 win against Lithuania in October, watched his international teammates from home as they reached the semifinals.
“Look, man, you can never say what could have been or I should have been there [World Cup[ or this, that,” Sturridge said. “I helped them get to the World Cup and I scored some goals on the journey, but I’m happy for everyone that went, too, because you can never take these things personal.
“I’ve got a lot of love for Gareth Southgate. I think he’s a great guy. He’s doing a hell of a job.
“I think he’ll bring success to the country, and I think the tournament which we did have, the World Cup which I wasn’t able to participate in, but the boys did a great job over there.
“They made the country proud. They made everyone proud. I was a fan, which, I was obviously an unhappy fan not being there, but a fan that I’m happy for the boys.
“I kept in contact with everybody. Texted Raheem [Sterling]. Texted H [Harry Kane], text Hendo [Jordan Henderson]. Text all the boys, Danny Rose, all my friends. I texted them all and said good luck, guys. I text the manager.
“It’s not about me. It’s about, at the end of the day, I was unfortunate not to go but it’s a beautiful thing, this game. You take the rough with the smooth.
“I’ve played in two tournaments and scored goals that made the country go wild looking at pictures, at videos.
“And then you have the down side of missing out, but then that gives you the drive to be like, “OK, you arose.”
“Next World Cup, I’m trying to be there, 100 percent.”
At 28, with a year left to run on his Liverpool contract, Sturridge is entering a crucial stage of his career, but he told ESPN FC that he is using the example of Drogba as inspiration for what can lie ahead in his thirties.
“I’ve got a lot of time,” he said. “I look at someone like Didier, I’d say he came to prominence when he was like 26, 27.
“He joined Chelsea when he was 26, 27. I think in his career, he started growing as he started getting older.
“His career started getting just like fine wine, baby. He just gets better and better with age.”