Some people say I have an unhealthy obsession with Luis Suarez. And why not ? He is probably the best footballer I have seen donning a red shirt (sorry Gerrard, I didn’t watch football when you were peaking).
For the uninitiated, Luis ‘El Pistolero’ Suarez is an Uruguayan striker currently spearheading the deadliest strike trio MSN (Messi-Suarez-Neymar) in the world at Barcelona. Played barefoot in the streets of Salto, Uruguay; Suarez had to suffer poverty, bad grades and his parents’ separation early in life. This tumultuous past of his combined with an exceptional talent of football forged him into a man that refused to lose in any situation.
Spending his formative years at Nacional, he decided to join Ajax in Holland as he wanted to stay close to his girlfriend (now wife) Sofia Balbi.
To a casual fan, the earliest memory of Luis Suarez is him representing Uruguay in World Cup 2010 and denying Ghana an open chance to qualify for next round. He handled a shot by Ghana in the dying minutes of the game that would have surely propelled them through to the next round. Handling the ball intentionally by an outfield player other than goalkeeper is considered a breach of ethics of football and Suarez was rightly removed from the game. Still the events transpired one of the biggest chokes in the history of football and Ghana was eliminated. An obscene amount of people supporting Ghana (thanks to their ‘underdog’ status against Uruguay) immediately made a villain out of Luis Suarez. Now despite what Suarez did, some people came out in his defense stating that he did it for his country. I don’t know about others but I am pretty sure if I was in his place I would have done the same.
In January of 2011, Luis Suarez- The cannibal of Ajax (wait, I will get to that) joined Liverpool. Liverpool was the team I always took in FIFA despite not watching their single game until then, so the move made me curious and I got invested. Little did we (Liverpool fans) know that it was the start of poetry in motion. At the time, the Liverpool fans were upset as their club was going nowhere. Their star striker Fernando Torres leaving them for their rivals Chelsea added fire to their misery. This left the arrival of Luis Suarez a bit low key in terms of media highlights. He scored in his Anfield debut and made himself an instant hero. A certain section of fans got to know the name of his daughter ‘Delfina’ which oddly is an anagram of Liverpool’s home stadium ‘Anfield’ and linked Suarez’s arrival as some sort of divine intervention from God to save the sinking ship called Liverpool. (Yes, I do admit this sounded as ridiculous to normal people then as it does now.) Regardless, Luis Suarez rewarded the Scousers with his surreal abilities in the three and a half seasons he stayed with us. He was the lone wolf that used to fight out till the end, even at times when there was no hope left. His celebration at the end of a win and frustration at a loss perfectly embodied the emotion of fans. His fighting spirit was infectious as gradually it affected the rest of the team and made an average team topple the giants in 2013-14 missing out the title narrowly. In his final season with us he missed first six games on account of a ban and still managed to finish the top scorer by a margin of 10 goals! This is nothing short of exceptional in footballing terms. Awed by his brilliance on the pitch there is hardly any red fan whose heart didn’t break when Barcelona took Luis Suarez from them. No matter how many number of Coutinho’s, Firmino’s or Mane’s Liverpool sign, no one can make an impact that Luis Suarez has made. Currently at Barcelona he is outperforming the legends of today that are Lionel Messi & Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo season after season.
Despite his out of the world performance it is no doubt that Luis Suarez will be overlooked for Ballon d’or time after time. Why exactly? This brings us to his vices.
As I already explained how he managed to turn masses against him due to his single handed ousting of Ghana in World Cup 2010. What followed few months down the line puts his supporters to shame. He bit an opponent in a match between Ajax and PSV. This led to him getting banned for 7 games and was dubbed as ‘Cannibal of Ajax’. He was taken by Liverpool where he bit Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea towards the end of 2012-13 season. He received a 9 game ban for his second biting offense. What was ridiculous that he managed to repeat the biting incident for a third time in the 2014 World Cup when he bit Giorgio Chiellini and earned a ban of 4 months. The third offense prompted Liverpool to offload their demented genius to Barcelona. His biting incidents over the years proved how his passion for winning used to get the better of him all the time but nevertheless this is not a justified reason for a professional footballer to act immature. If the biting incidents were not the ones to bring his supporters head down, they were definitely let down by his racist remark on Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. In his defence he did it unintentionally and though Liverpool’s supporters vehemently supported him that time, in the hindsight it does look stupid on their part.
Ultimately when it comes to footballing ability, hardly few are there who can compete with the brand of Luis Suarez. For non footballing reasons he has given ample of reasons to his haters to eat him alive. Luis Suarez is a force that is only loved by the supporters of the clubs he has represented earning millions of haters worldwide. This is why it makes him a villain of the masses but the hero of a few.
Ali Shaan Haider
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