In some Manchester United circles, it might be blasphemous to say one of their players shares the same characteristics as a Liverpool player. Especially when the Liverpool player is the “evil” Luis Suárez. On the other hand, Liverpool supporters might consider it sacrilege to have one of their players compared to the “vile” Roy Keane. But these two villains share many of the same qualities, good and bad.
Both Suárez and Keane grew up in tough environments where winning a football match was done by any means necessary.
Luis Suárez grew up in South America (Salto, Uruguay) where street football and poverty almost go hand in hand. South American footballers are brought up with an attacking, “win at all costs” mentality. South America could be considered the birthplace of great footballers by boasting a list of players such as: Pelé, Maradona, Ronaldo, Messi, Romário, Alfredo di Stéfano, and Rivaldo.
At the age of 14, Luis Suárez was offered the opportunity to train with Nacional de Montevideo’s youth team. When he was 15, he headbutted a referee and received his first suspension. He was later disciplined by his head coach for excessively drinking and partying. But after three years he made his first team debut in the Copa Libertadores. He eventually led his team to a league title before being snatched up by the Dutch club, Groningen. He played a single season at Groningen before being bought by the Dutch giants, AFC Ajax.
Roy Keane was born in a working class suburb in Cork, Ireland. Aside from his football training, Keane took up boxing for a number of years. Keane was immersed in his local drinking culture and was never one to turn down a fight. His combativeness was also evident in his early footballing career. Despite the fact that he was considered “too small” to be a footballer by many scouts, Keane worked part-time jobs and continued to train. Many of his team-mates were offered trials abroad with English teams, but he was not. He was turned down for trial after trial before eventually signing for the semi-professional club, Cobh Ramblers. Keane played a single season for Cobh before being signed by Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest.
Keane and Suárez have had their share of on the field problems. Some might consider these issues as signs of each player’s insanity. While others may feel it shows their blind passion or a desire to win “by any means necessary”.
Suárez’s recent issues have been well-publicized. While at Ajax and Liverpool he has had lengthy suspensions for biting an opponent. He was also banned from competition for racially abusing Patrice Evra of Manchester United. He later refused to acknowledge Evra during a pre-match handshake at Old Trafford. During the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals in South Africa, he received a straight red-card against Ghana for a blatant handball, which prevented a winning goal in the final seconds of the match. In the past he has also been suspended from a squad (Ajax) for a dressing room altercation with one of his teammates.