Daniel Sturridge admits he was “hurt” by critics questioning his commitment to playing for Liverpool.
England striker Sturridge has been plagued by a series of injuries over the past two seasons, but has been involved in the Reds last three matches, scoring in the 6-0 win at Aston Villa.
The 26-year-old has been criticised by a host of names, including Jamie Carragher, for his fitness record, but the former Chelsea forward insists he is now “looking forward to the future” at the club.
“It’s important to worry about the present. It’s been a difficult time being injured but it’s part of football. Now I’m looking forward to the future, of course with Liverpool,” he said.
“I’ve always had my family, friends and Liverpool with me. I am happy to be playing and that’s all that matters. Nobody knows how much it means to me to play football. I will continue to do my best and focus on playing for LFC.
“When I am not playing I am devastated. I’m not just at home or out with my friends chilling. All I want to do is play football. I am blessed by God and I have no stresses. I have come a long way from Birmingham. I am good.
“It hurts not being able to play but you have to be strong in these situations. It hurts to hear what people have said second or third hand.
“To say a player doesn’t want to play is the biggest disrespect you could ever say to a footballer. I think it is astonishing, disappointing – whoever is saying it – but that’s football and people are entitled to their opinions.
“I would probably say a lot of the things people say about me aren’t true. I don’t listen to social media but it is surprising [to be questioned] – I didn’t know religion had anything to do with football.”
Sturridge, who on Wednesday was again linked with a move to West Ham, is expected to face Augsburg on Thursday, before Liverpool’s League Cup final against Manchester City.
“It’s important for everyone to be ready for the two games ahead. We are prepared for them. We have to go out with right mentality,” he added.