Final Straw For Pantomime Villain Luis Suarez
The best player in the Premier League last year by some distance, a club hero, a talismanic figure for his nation, and one of the most naturally gifted footballers in the world; Luis Suarez. Now though, irrefutably and irreversibly, he will forever be known as The Biter. Well and truly embedded in the prime years of what could have been remembered as a wonderful career, he had the world at his feet, raring to take the Champions League by storm. The 24th June has quite possibly been the darkest day in the recent history of Luis Suarez that has seen some pretty pitch black nights already. He entered the day still on a high from his heroics against England, and leaves it in disgrace.
In fact, my very first article for The Boot Room was entitled “Luis Suarez – The Path to Redemption” and it tracked a quite remarkable recovery from public enemy number one to most globally feared striker for all the right reasons. I genuinely believed that he was a changed man who had put his more than chequered past behind him. Sadly, I could not have been more mistaken. The act of complete madness when he bit Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder in a World Cup group stage clash more than just reversed all the hard work he had put in over the last 12 months, it condemned him eternally to a life of criticism, hate, and disrespect.
Similarly to his previous toothy misdemeanours, this case was utterly unprovoked. The Italian centre half had done nothing more than defend well against the skilful striker and do his utmost to quell every attempt Suarez made to break the deadlock. And as before, something inside him snapped. A genuine tussle that takes place in every match, in every competition, in every country in the world, was suddenly more sinister. Clamping an opponent’s flesh between your teeth is completely unacceptable and no manner of provocation could justify it. Even that cannot save Suarez. It has no place on the football field any more than it has a place in general society.
Being a Liverpool fan myself, and having revelled in the transformation he made in the last Premier League campaign, those brief few moments were acutely distressing. Gone was the image of the smiling Suarez, gaining all the satisfaction he required by scoring hat-fuls of goals. Gone was the image of an emotional and proud Suarez at the many awards ceremonies that almost entirely focused around his accomplishments. But most poignantly for me, gone was the image of Suarez ever pulling on a red shirt again.
The Anfield faithful stood by him through thick and thin in a way that only Liverpudlians could. In the face of countless diving accusations, the race row with Evra, and his second biting incident on Ivanovic, Liverpool fans always gave him a supportive place to turn. He never lost the adoration of The Kop or the support of his manager even when his acts were indefensible to the extreme. I feel though that this time, he has crossed a line that he can never return from.
It is my very firm desire that he never plays for my beloved club again, as there is only so much mud you can drag an institution through, regardless of your talent. Suarez’s mere presence on the same pitch as other Liverpool players will have such a negative impact on the rest of them as they face the backlash of the vitriol that is destined to come his way. After he brought the club into disrepute in April 2013 when he bit Ivanovic, he could very easily have been abandoned by the club. He could very easily have been hung out to dry by the fans and the owners, leaving him to take the entirety of the abuse that deservedly came his way. But no, the club along with Brendan Rodgers ensured that he received psychiatric help to curve the vicious side that can boil over. Rodgers developed a special relationship with Suarez and would often publicly praise him alone, showering him with admiration.
I do hope that the uncontrollable, raw emotion that we all saw clearly written across Luis Suarez’s face after the 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace was not just a stunt. It had effectively just been all but confirmed that Liverpool would miss out on the league title, and Suarez seemed to express the feelings of every single Liverpool fan at that moment. Until now, there was not even a seed of doubt in my mind that he may have been pretending, but after what I witnessed today, I cannot be sure what on earth he sees as a logical action any more. It may well have been genuine, but that presence of doubt has completely ruined my memory of him and more than marred his outstanding season.
In my lifetime and for many more years prior to that, Steven Gerrard has been described as quite possibly Liverpool Football Club’s greatest ever servant. No shortage of commitment, passion, and a large degree of skill to boot. This perhaps puts into perspective that there is a strong belief that Luis Suarez has been Liverpool’s most talented player ever and by definition, the best ever. Now though, he holds the rather strange and most undesirable of titles, Liverpool’s worst ever.
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