SAD FACE: Luis Suarez (right) can’t hide his tears. Photo AFP
by Paul Kennedy
I’m going to start off with a bombshell. Get something off my chest I’ve been wanting to say for some time.
Deep breath. Here we go…
I like Luis Suarez. There, I’ve said it.
Granted his best days are very nearly behind him, and as football players go he is about as trustworthy as a bored and restless serpent in the Garden of Eden, but there’s something about little Luis that I just kind of like.
On the pitch he’s an animal. And a bitey one at that. But when he plays for your team, as Luis did at Liverpool from 2011 to 2014, he becomes your very own pantomime villain.
Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz, to give him his full name, has not had the best of summers. In fact as a footballer, it’s probably been his worst.
And the Uruguayan's downfall can all be traced back to one moment.
It was in Barcelona, on the night the Catalans thrashed Liverpool by three goals to nil, towards the end of the game. His teammate Lionel Messi had just scored their third goal, a superb free-kick, and Luis did what Luis does best.
After the final whistle he jogged past Liverpool’s Andy Robertson, who he had kicked earlier on in the match and forced him off the pitch, and laughed in his face. Robbo didn't react, and the match came to an end.
Luis and the rest of his Barca pals would have been on cloud nine after that win and no doubt would have already been planning their trip to the Champions League final.
That is when things began to start heading south for Suarez.
The second leg at Anfield, well we all know what happened there, then Barcelona went on to lose the Copa del Rey final against Valencia.
Next came the Copa America and saw Luis up to his old tricks. He was caught on camera claiming for a penalty against Chile when one of their players clearly handled the ball in the box. Slight problem, the player was the goalkeeper.
In the same match he tried to get another Chilean player booked for a blatant trip, and boy it was blatant alright, but again there was a problem.
The player didn’t trip one of Uruguay’s midfielders, no, it was a pitch invader. Undeterred, Luis was still caught on camera gesturing to the referee to show him a card.
Then on Sunday, Uruguay played Peru in the quarter-finals, a match that couldn’t be decided in normal time, nor extra time.
Penalty shoot-out and guess what? Correct, Suarez was the only player to miss and as a result, Uruguay are out of the Copa America.
A truly summer horribilis for Luis.
But (ducks out of the way from incoming abuse) I still really, really like him.
He’s an amazing talent and reminds me of an adolescent and very angry rabid dog that you can just, only just, keep under control thanks to a very tight leash.
Chances are his Barca days won’t last much longer and that’s not because of his antics but because of his age.
What’s he got left? A season at the Nou Camp? Two maybe? And then this street fighting footballer from the north western Uruguayan city of Salto will be off to pastures new.
If you believe what you read on the internet, and there are a million reasons why you shouldn’t, there’s a good chance the 32-year-old will next ply his trade in the United States with the new Miami team run by David Beckham, tipped to sign him.
Will he change his ways? I truly hope not. Will he mellow out in old age? Not a chance. Will he be the same rapscallion loved by his own supporters and hated by everyone else? You can guarantee it. VNS