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BLOOD, SWEAT & CHEERS.

ON the subject of world-class strikers, it's funny, because I always hear how they are born, not made, how it's all instinctive.

I'm here to tell you they're not. Yep, they have talent, but go to Liverpool, Manchester, London, Newcastle, Birmingham and go to any football space, and you'll hear a story of a player who had the talent to make it.

He didn't, because he didn't have the mentality or work ethic. Maybe he didn't want to make sacrifices, or maybe he didn't want to learn. I worked harder as a kid than I did at any other stage in my career, trying to learn my craft.

You need to be born with talent and, yeah, it can be instinctive. But you can work at becoming very good.

People say natural this or that, they think it just happens - but it's years and years of practice, sacrifice and work that make you succeed.

You also need to have the capacity to learn.

Striking at the highest level is about being very clever, having an alert mind to work out so many things.

You have to have an understanding of who you are playing against, read their weaknesses and their thought processes too.

Then you need to have the intelligence to understand about movement, where to run, how to run, how to deceive your opponent with your run, how to create space and close space and anticipate space.

You need to be clever enough to work out where the ball is likely to come from and how it will be delivered, what type of delivery and where the ball may break.

Then you have to read keepers, which is a totally different type of mental exercise.

That isn't all instinctive, most of it is an ongoing learning process, and the top strikers like Costa and Zlatan, they have worked harder than anyone else.

That is dedication and sacrifice. I remember growing up and my mates would be all off out, hanging around with each other, and I'd be practicing, for hours and hours and hours on end, working on my weaknesses. Or I'd be off home, preparing for a game.

People don't see that, they see me as that Scally Robbie Fowler who was lucky because he had a natural talent and he could just mess about and it still came naturally.

So when you watch Costa, Ibra or Daniel Sturridge, or even Messi, Ronaldo and Suarez, yep, they have a natural talent, but what they really have is the hunger to hone that talent.

CAPTION(S):

STAR QUALITY: Liverpool star Daniel Sturridge has hunger to hone his talent

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 23, 2016
Words:439
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