So the saga finally came to an end on the afternoon of 11th July, 2014. The will he won’t he questions as to whether Luis Suarez will leave Liverpool Football Club has finally been answered and the Uruguayan will head to the Nou Camp for an as yet undisclosed fee (but much speculated on fee).
As a Liverpool fan who has followed the club from the age of 7, home and away, beginning in 1989, Ill hands down tell you he is the most technically gifted footballer I have seen in Liverpool red, and vies only with the Captain for my title of best player Ive seen play for Liverpool in my lifetime. The man in unquestionably a genius and I don’t care what you say but on current form is the best player in the world and will go down as one of the greatest to play the game. These are big words and statements but as someone who got to watch him week in week out for over 3 years; I can qualify the claims.
The man can do ; and did things with a football that if you sat and thought for seconds, minutes, even hours as to how he quite managed it, you’d be none the wiser. Quite how he therefore did it within the blink of an eye only he can answer. He single handedly won my football team matches and dragged us back where we belong. He scored 82 goals in 133 games for my football team. He sweated every ounce of effort from his body for my football team every time he entered a football field and never gave anything less than all of himself in every game he wore the Liverbird on his chest. He gave the impression he would have died for us.
That maybe goes someway to answer as to why Liverpool fans so vehemently defended him. We aren’t an ordinary football club. We’re extra-ordinary and Scousers are fiercely loyal to their own. To us, he was one of our own because he constantly proved himself to us.
Id be here all day if I had to relay the individual moments of ecstasy he has given me at football grounds all round this country in the last 3 years or so. Just ask Matty Evo (@M_EvoLFC) about his first away goal for the club at Sunderland and what happened there. El Pistolero cutting in along the by line and from an impossible angle smashing the ball past the keeper when it looked like there was no chance of finding the net without a pull back. Over to you there Mr Evans.
Suarez gave us some of the hands down best moments of our lives and maybe that gives some incite as to why when shrouded with controversy he was so supported. Gordon Strachan talked about football not having morals. It is a valid point, and when a player of such ability gives you so much on the pitch, he will be supported. Look at Utd with Cantona and Keane. Everton with Duncan Ferguson. John Terry at Chelsea. Let’s not forget, Barcelona are shedding out a lot of money for a player who can’t play for 4 months and comes with more baggage than Heathrow and Manchester combined, simply because he will win them football matches.
And that is how I have always looked at him and how the majority of Liverpool fans do. He has been an outstanding player for this football club and I am privileged to have witnessed his ability with a football week in week out.
I accept that fact he has left and wish him all the best. He seemingly had an unquenchable thirst to play in Spain and that has now been realised. It should be stated however; that whilst I genuinely wish him all the very best in pastures new, I can’t help think that he needs to heed a few warnings.
When he signed for Liverpool FC, we didn’t exactly beat teams off with a stick, nor break any transfer records. Fernando was going the other way (to the exit door) for £50 million the same day; Luis was a mere 50% of that. My point is that he arrived here a very good player with potential. We turned him into the best player in the world with a phenomenal goals to game record, with a host of personal accolades in tow. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Just ask Fernando. Liverpool’s style of play is set up for Suarez. To get the best from him. It was the same with Torres. When he moves to Barca, he is a smaller fish in the big pond. Their team is and will always be geared around Messi whilst he is there. Not to mention Neymar in the mix. He may find himself having to take one for the team a lot more often than he ever did at Liverpool.
Additionally; he will never feel support and backing like he has from Liverpool fans and the Club, anywhere else in the world. If he misbehaves over in Spain, he will find himself on his own, unquestionably and may find his thoughts quickly turning to his Liverpool ‘home’.
I suppose football is a fickle sport and can be as much about the absence of fairy tales and romanticism as it can be about the prevalence of them. Im my Suarez ‘heart on sleeve fairy tale world,’ I’d have liked to have thought that maybe, just maybe he would have taken stock for a moment and considered all the above and realised that sometimes, players just find a team and a place that they belong. Regardless of trophies and everything else, a place where they fit and where it clicks for them and brings the best out in them. I really feel Suarez had that here, and I think he may come to learn that in time but I’d have just loved him to have turned round and said;
“You know what, I am at home here. Im loved by the fans, Im supported, by family are at home here. Im at a huge club that plays to my strengths and supports my game, where my team mates make sacrifices for me and a club that has turned me into the player I am today and a club that can achieve great things and I want to help them do that.”
It wasn’t to be however; and I wish him and his family all the best and that his football does ALL the talking for him from now on as it deserves to. He is a genius and I’ve loved every minute of it and will remember all those moments he gave us until the day I die and Ill be telling my kids when they are old enough all about the crazy Uruguayan who sent Daddy and Uncle Evo off their barnets on many occasions. He was worth the entrance fee to any game alone.
Many ask, “What would your Grandad Shankly have said.” I tell them, he’d have loved the man, because he was a crazy genius who lived the game and loved this football club, scoring goal after goal and winning games for his team; leaving nothing on the pitch every time he went out there. And that is how we will remember him.
The people of Norwich will breathe a collective sigh of relief this evening, as will my wife probably as she won’t have to hear me go on about El Pistolero!
Chris William Shankly Carline