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Sturridge: I'd still be on City's bench

ESPN staff
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Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has admitted in an interview with the Daily Mirror he would likely still be warming the bench for Manchester City if he hadn't made the decision to leave the club in 2009.

Having come through the ranks at City, Sturridge joined Chelsea on a free transfer after a frustrating three years in the first-team set-up.

He made just five league starts at City, with his chances limited due to the big-money signings brought in following Sheikh Mansour's takeover in 2008.

"I would not have got to where I am today if I had stayed," said Sturridge, who has shone for Liverpool this season with 23 goals to his name as Brendan Rodgers' Premier League leaders look to move one step closer to a first title since 1990 with victory over City on Sunday.

"It was difficult for me at Manchester City as a young player aged 18 or 19, with all the money they have.

"Realistically, you look back and they only have Micah Richards from the academy playing for the club's first team - everyone else has been signed by Man City, so I feel I made the right decision leaving there."

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Sturridge's experience at Chelsea was no different, admitting he "fell out of love with the game" after being forced to play out wide on his rare appearances while Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres fought it out to get the nod up front.

"At first, it was a matter of learning from the likes of Didier [at Chelsea], and I thought I would get my opportunity sooner, but they didn't believe in me as a centre-forward," he said.

"They always said, 'You're not a centre-forward, you're a winger' - that's how they saw me, but that hurt me because I've played down the middle all my life.

"The pitch has always been where I've been able to express myself the most, where I feel happiest, and I was deprived of that opportunity at Chelsea. There were times when I was sat at home, very upset, and I fell out of love with the game.

"In every job, you want to be able to do what you love, and it's the hardest thing to accept when someone takes it away from you.

"I was scared, I wasn't sure about the future and I'm thankful to God that I had my family behind me. In the end, I was so happy that I was able to go on loan to Bolton [in January 2011] and prove to myself, 'I can still do this.'

"It's difficult when you are not playing for so long. Young players do get wrapped up when they are at a big club and they are not playing, so it's been a whirlwind 15 months since I joined Liverpool.

"First and foremost, I feel blessed that I'm at a club where I can push myself to the limit, always listening to my team-mates and especially the manager. This is a time in my life I'll always remember because of everything that's gone on in the past."

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