England striker Daniel Sturridge is relishing the prospect of playing in the knockout stages of Euro 2016. The injury-prone forward scored for England in their 2-1 win against Wales earlier in the competition, and as his side prepare to face Iceland in a round-of-16 tie in Nice, Sturridge has insisted he loves the big-match atmosphere.
Strurridge, who almost missed out on selection due to fitness concerns, has revealed his family and girlfriend helped him to navigate his way through the dark days of last winter, when commentators were suggesting his career may have already peaked. But he has since bounced back in style, and is determined to help the Three Lions achieve glory at the Euros.
"I love playing big games, when you are in the situation where everything is on the line and someone has to step up," the Liverpool star told ITV Sport. "The last time out has probably been the worst. Then it becomes mental, not just football. Did I fear for my career? Hell, no! I've got too many beautiful people around me, my family and a lady to let it all get to me."
Meanwhile, Sturridge likened himself to a lion searching for his prey during his cameo against Wales, when he scored England's winner in stoppage time. "I was almost like a lion against Wales, or a gazelle," the Liverpool striker explained.
"I love lions, I don't know why. But sometimes they are calm and sometimes they attack. It's about enjoying it, letting your feet do the talking."
Despite starting England's last fixture against Slovakia, Sturridge is expected to return to the bench for their round-of-16 clash against Iceland. The Liverpool star and his England teammates will face France in a quarter-final if they win their game.