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Daniel Sturridge still No.1 at his old school

TOP GUY: England striker Daniel Sturridge

DANIEL STURRIDGE may be feeling the pressure like the rest of his England team mates as their World Cup journey hangs in the balance, but he can always be sure of a goal-den welcome at his old Birmingham primary school.

The 24-year-old Liverpool striker, who made his stunning World Cup debut by scoring England’s goal in the 2-1 defeat to Italy, has his No.1 fan club at St George’s C of E Academy in Newtown.

It’s where he started as a five-year-old kicking a ball around the school’s playing fields before moving on to Four Dwellings Academy in the south of the city.

He’s the pupils’ No.1 role model and they’re following every move he makes.

His oldest fans there maybe only 11, but as football pundits their razor-sharp commentary should have BBC’s Gary Lineker and ITV anchorman Adrian Chiles looking over their shoulders.

Ten-year-old Ruhul Miah pulled no punches when he criticised England’s defending during the game against Uruguay.

STURRIDGE HOMAGE: Boys (from left) Ibrahim Bayang, Aurio Neto, Ruhul Miah and Taher Hosseing try out a Daniel Sturridge goal celebration

“I thought their defence was rubbish – they took too much time on the ball, but I still really rate Sturridge – he’s a strong player.”

While Aurio Neto, 11, felt he had a lot in common with Steve Gerrard, because, like him, he’s captain of the school team.

He said: “I think the full backs should have been much quicker in their tackling and there should have been more crosses. I also agree they spent too much time with the ball.”

Fellow pundit Taher Hosseing, also 11, added: “England had quite a few chances and it was a shame that Rooney’s header cross was just too high, but Sturridge played really well.”

And Ibrahim Bayang, 11, felt Luis Suarez killed England’s game with his double goal whammy. He said: “England had a lot of opportunities but they didn’t take them.”

But Nevarnie Farrell, 11, added: “People said England were OK, but I thought they were awesome – however they held back too much.”

And Ashaea Tweede-Waite, also 11, was tougher: “England could have tried harder,” she said.

YOUNG PUNDITS: Nevarnie Farrell (left) and Ashaea Tweede-Waite

Head teacher Paul Doddridge, who as a Liverpudlian is a Liverpool supporter, said: “Having Daniel Sturridge as an old pupil has given us a real personal edge to the World Cup.

“But it’s more than just being a talented football player – coaches have told me there were plenty of young players around who were also good, but as a young black guy from the inner city Daniel kept his focus when there were a lot of other distractions.

“What path you choose to follow can make all the difference in life – quality has to be allied to attitude and that’s why we couldn’t have a better role model for St George’s than Daniel Sturridge.”

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