When the young Daniel Sturridge was a child dreaming of becoming a professional footballer, there was a Brazilian attacker in Spain who captured the Englishman's imagination like no other.

The Liverpool striker would reject the chance to spend time with friends in favour of tuning in to the latest fixtures from La Liga and an opportunity to watch samba legend Rivaldo strut his unrivalled stuff for Barcelona.

A World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002, the playmaker was a phenomenal creative force at the Nou Camp and later AC Milan, and scored a free-kick at Anfield for Olympiacos in December 2004.

Sturridge's memory bank is filled with images of the elegant forward at his peak, prompting the Reds' No.15 to reveal how and why he took significant inspiration from the fellow left-footer.

"When I was 13 I didn't want to go out with my mates - I'd stay in and watch La Liga instead," he told FourFourTwo magazine.

"Seeing Zidane, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo producing their magic week in, week out was a real buzz.

"I've always studied the best Brazilians. I used to watch videos of Pele and loved seeing Rivaldo at Barcelona. I'm left-footed like he is, so I always tried to pick up bits from his game.

"I remember that great overhead kick he scored against Manchester United in the Champions League. There was another one too, against Valencia in La Liga.

"That one was from the edge of the box in the last minute and clinched his hat-trick. It was ridiculous. He was a top player."

Having lifted his performance to another level since switching to Liverpool in January 2013 - with 22 strikes in just 30 appearances for the Reds - Sturridge has developed into an England regular.


Should his form continue when the 24-year-old returns from an ankle injury, the former Chelsea man is expected to start for his country at the World Cup in Brazil this summer.

He reflected: "If I can keep developing my game and get a place at the World Cup, I'll be delighted. That would be an amazing achievement.

"When you consider where I've come from since last January, it'd be brilliant to be on that plane.

"Playing at a World Cup is a high point for any footballer, but to do it in Brazil will be extra special.

"There's just something magical about the place, with the samba, the carnival atmosphere and the whole vibe there.

"Everything that surrounds the football actually adds to the football. God willing, I can be there to savour it all."

Roy Hodgson's England were handed a hugely challenging obstacle when the group stage draw was conducted last December, with Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay composing the section.

Sturridge, who could find himself in opposition to Liverpool strike partner Luis Suarez at the tournament, nevertheless feels confident that the Three Lions can make an impact in South America.

He added: "There are a lot of top quality sides. There will be pressure on us, but I think the key to coping with that is for us to all embrace it and enjoy it.

"If everyone plays their natural game and looks to savour what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I think we have the players to make an impact.

"We've got a good squad, a great manager and a strong backroom team. We shouldn't fear it."