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Getting to Know: Luis Suárez

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A recap of Luis Suarez's footballing career up to this point.

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Full name: Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz
Squad No: 9
Position: Striker
Date of birth: 24 January 1987
Place of birth: Salto, Uruguay
Height: 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight: 85 kg (187 lbs)

Luis Suarez was born in the city of Salto, Uruguay, on the border with Argentina, 500 km (310 miles) from the capital of Montevideo. While playing barefoot on city streets Suarez quickly knew that he wanted to play football all his life. At the age of seven the Suarez family moved to Montevideo where he at first struggled to find his place. But he continued to play football in school and joined Urreta, a local club, at the age of nine.

There he was discovered by the scouts of Club Nacional de Football, commonly known as Nacional. Going through personal turmoil, culminated by his parents' divorce, Suarez was nearly thrown from the team at the age of 14. But Wilson Pírez, the man who discovered Suarez at Urreta, convinced the coordinators of the youth teams to give the boy another chance and, perhaps more importantly, presented Suarez with the ultimatum that he has to clean up his act or he will have to say goodbye to his Nacional football career. Suarez didn't disappoint him, and by the age of 18 Suarez was scoring goals for the first team. In his debut professional season he made 34 appearances and scored 12 goals.

That one season proved to be enough to impress scouts from FC Groningen of the Eredivisie, who had a 0.8 million offer accepted by Nacional. Making the move to Europe proved difficult for Suarez, especially because he didn't speak Dutch or English. But the language of football prevailed. Suarez quickly started scoring goals for what was a largely unimpressive Groningen side, which caught the eye of Dutch powerhouse AFC Ajax, who snapped him up for €7.5 million, stopping the young Uruguayan's Groningen career after just one season of 37 games played, 15 goals scored and six assists.

Now accustomed to Dutch football, Suarez, who signed a five-year contract with Ajax, hit the ground running, immediately becoming a key player. The Uruguayan's goal scoring potential was on full display throughout his stay in Amsterdam, he scored 0.7 goals/game, but more impressively, for approximately every two goals Suarez scored he also added an assist. Suarez became a hot commodity in the 2009-10 season - a season in which he scored more goals than he made appearances. The following season, Suarez's last in the Dutch capital, marked the beginning of the infamy surrounding Suarez, as the Uruguayan bit PSV's Otman Bakkal, and was subsequently suspended for seven games. That ended up being the last game of Suarez's Ajax career as the Dutch side agreed to a 26.5 million settlement with Liverpool in the winter transfer window. In three and a half seasons Suarez wore the Ajax shirt 158 times, scored 111 goals and assisted on another 68.

Saurez made his Liverpool debut on 2 February and in true striker fashion scored after just fifteen minutes on the pitch. Like at Ajax, Suarez quickly became counted upon by his manager, teammates and fans. He often rewarded them, but controversy followed Suarez to the English Premier League where he was first accused of racially abusing Patrice Evra, an incident Suarez still denies, which would earn him an eight match ban, and later bit Branislav Ivanović, which sidelined him for another ten. But despite all the turmoil, Suarez continued to play football at an incredibly high level. Everything seemed to come together for Suarez in the 2013-14 season when he won the European Golden Shoe and became the first non-European to be named PFA Player of the Year. It would also be Suarez's last season at Liverpool, closing his accounts at 82 goals and 53 assists in 133 games.

For the following season, 2014-15, he would join FC Barcelona on a club record €81 million transfer, agreeing to a five year contract. Suarez's debut was postponed due to a suspension picked up at the 2014 World Cup until 25 October 2014. When he debuted in the El Clasico. Suarez was noticeably rusty upon his return to the football pitch, but slowly and surely he found his rhythm and has since become a member of the most deadly attacking trio in Barcelona history. In 42 games for the Blaugrana, Suarez has been directly involved with 48 goals, scoring 24 and assisting on another 24.

Internationally Suarez has been ever present for Uruguay, but even here he couldn't avoid controversy. His path with the national team started at the U-20 level, he took part in the 2007 U-20 World Cup, and he also took the pitch with the U-23 team. Suarez made his senior debut just a couple of weeks after his 20th birthday against Colombia, but was sent off late in the game. Regardless of the end result, it marked the beginning of a very successful national team career for Suarez that has recently been tainted by a third biting incident that saw him banned from the pitch for four months. Suarez has been part of two World Cup teams, took part in the Summer Olympics as well as the Confederations Cup and the Copa America. Altogether Suarez made 82 appearances for the senior team and scored 43 goals. He also played in ten games for Uruguay's youth selections in which he found the back of the net five times.

Profile

Suarez is an exceptionally gifted striker that can play on either wing if necessary. He is capable with both feet, though he is more comfortable with his right. While most strikers focus mostly on scoring goals Suarez takes great pride in his passing which makes him an even larger threat in attack. Suarez is a tireless worker that does not shy away from helping his team in defense. His heading abilities offers much both on offense and on defense. The only real downside to Suarez's game is that he seems to be followed by controversy.

Honors

Nacional

  • Primera División (1): 2005-06

Ajax

  • Eredivisie (1): 2010-11
  • KNVB Cup (1): 2009-10
  • Johan Cruijff Shield (1): 2007

Liverpool

  • League Cup (1): 2011-12

Barcelona

  • La Liga (1): 2014-15
  • Copa del Rey (1): 2014-15

Uruguay

  • Copa América (1): 2011

Individual

  • Ajax Player of the Year (2): 2008-09, 2009-10
  • Ajax Top Goalscorer (2): 2008-09, 2009-10
  • Eredivisie Golden Boot (1): 2009-10
  • KNVB Cup Top Goalscorer (1): 2009-10
  • Dutch Footballer of the Year (1): 2009-10
  • Copa América Player of the Tournament (1): 2011
  • PFA Team of the Year (2): 2012-13, 2013-14
  • Liverpool FC Top Goalscorer (3): 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14
  • Liverpool FC Player of the Year (2): 2012-13, 2013-14
  • PFA Players' Player of the Year (1): 2013-14
  • FWA Footballer of the Year (1): 2013-14
  • European Golden Shoe (1): 2013-14
  • Premier League Player of the Season: 2013-14
  • FSF Player of the Year (1): 2013-14
  • ESM Team of the Year (1): 2013-14
  • Premier League Golden Boot (1): 2013-14

Suarez is currently in the first year of a five year contract that will run out in 2019.