Luis Suarez is just one of those players who opposing fans just can’t stand. The mere mention of his name sends a wave of negative feelings through people’s bodies. The Uruguayan striker’s well documented controversies and flashpoints haven’t helped his public perception. Even his facial features give the impression of a deceitful person who is meant not to be trusted.
But Suarez is a footballing genius. He is a nightmare for opposing defenses whether he has the ball or not. The 26-year-old forward has being pouring in goals for Liverpool over the past few seasons; 23 goals in 33 Premier League games last season and another 17 goals in only 11 BPL contests this year. And when he isn’t scoring goals, Suarez is making penetrating runs with/without the ball, threading passes to teammates or occupying the mind of opposing defenses with his mere presence on the pitch.
Suarez is a polarizing figure who can create a moment of awe-inspiring football, almost as quickly as he can engineer a moment of complete madness. But as of right now the third-year Liverpool forward has put his checkered past behind him and is leading his club back to the promised land of European football.
Regardless if Luis Suarez ends up leading the historical club back to Europe or potentially to a Premier League title, the majority of opposing/neutral fans will never take a liking to him. You would hope that most people would be able to forgive a person for their past indiscretions, especially when it seems like that person has turned over a new leaf; but one gets the feeling that Suarez just won’t be afforded that luxury.
Suarez rap sheet includes: a blatant handball in his country’s 2010 World Cup semi-final versus Ghana, two separate incidents of biting another player during club competitions, being found guilty (by the English FA) for racial abuse against an opposing player, and numerous examples of diving or “simulation” during matches. The image of Suarez as a “cheat” will forever by burned into people’s consciousness.
But it’s safe to say that Suarez can change some fans’ perception should he end up leading Liverpool back to their glory days. All will be forgotten once the striker starts bringing home some silverware for the legendary North West club.
For those readers who don’t agree with that statement, ponder this question: What is the difference between Luis Suarez and Roy Keane? Keane was frequently suspended from play due to angry outbursts and reckless challenges. He holds the record for the most red cards in the history of English football with thirteen. The combative former Manchester United captain was one of the most hated players in English football. But Keane had a level of respect in footballing circles because of his ability and his trophy haul over the course of his career with the club.
Eric Cantona once kicked an opposing supporter, Zinedine Zidane head butted Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final, Paolo Di Canio once gave a fascist salute to Lazio supporters; each one of these incidents has been forgiven over time. Whether it was time healing those wounds or the individual player’s footballing abilities which led to a change of fan perception; you will have to judge that on your own.
As of this moment, Luis Suarez is captain of his team and has led his club’s resurgence in the Premier League. Liverpool are currently occupying second place in the league standings and only trail league-leading Arsenal by two points after sixteen games. Suarez is leading the league in scoring with seventeen goals; he has scored 40 goals in his past 44 Premier League appearances.
At what point will fans stop hating Luis Suarez? Will it be after he brings home his first silverware for the club? Or can we just begin the process of forgiving Luis Suarez and start appreciating his footballing genius now?