Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz, world renowned as Luis Suárez, a striker for Spanish club Barcelona and the Uruguay national team, is considered to be one of the best footballers in the world. He is Uruguay's all-time leading goalscorer. Here are facts about the Uruguayan professional footballer:
He is one of the best strikers for Uruguay and equally one of the most controversial footballers in the world.
Suarez was handed an eight match ban and a £40,000 fine by the Football Association after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, in a match played on October15.
He was born Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz on January 24, 1987, in Salto, Uruguay, to Rodolfo and Sandra Suarez. He is fourth of seven children to his parents.
Despite living in poverty, at the age of seven his mother encouraged and introduced him to Urreta football club in Montevideo. He idolized Enzo Francescoli and Gabriel Batistuta as an aspiring footballer growing up and scored a hat-trick in his first friendly match.
He was not very bright academically nor was he initially keen on becoming a professional footballer. He developed his football skill on the streets and took up work as street sweeper for a living.
He would often skip practice, drinking, staying out late. His coach threatened him he would never play unless he shows more seriousness.
His life changed for better after he met a blond and fair skin girl, Sofia Balbi, when he was 15. She made him realize the importance of hard work and her family gave him the sense of belonging and safety.
He was discovered by Wilson Pirez, a scout working for Nacional de Football Club, at the age of 14 and played his first professional football match for their youth team against Colombian outfit, Copa Libertadores, on May 03, 2005.
He made his club first team debut in May 2005 and scored his first goal in September that year. He scored 10 goals in 27 appearances for Nacional and helped it win the 2005-06, Uruguayan League.
When he was 15, overcome with anger, he head-butted a referee and received a red card in a youth match, making the man’s nose bleed.
On November 20, 2010, playing for Ajax in Amsterdam, he bit midfielder Otman Bakkal on the shoulder during an argument and was suspended for seven league matches with undisclosed fine. He was branded as ‘cannibal of Ajax’ and never played for the club again.
His performance against Defensor Sporting, when he converted a penalty and scored a ‘wonder goal’ interested scouts from Dutch club Groningen and signed him up for €800,000. He was more thrilled to go to Europe for the sake of Sofia Balbi, who had moved to Spain rather than for football career.
Suarez donned his Uruguay jersey for the first time when he was selected to 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Canada. He scored two goals in four matches in the tournaments.
He made his debut for the senior national side for his first international match on February 08, 2007 in a 3-1 friendly against Colombia. The match also recorded his first marching orders in 85th minutes with two yellow cards.
Growing up he had many nicknames like ‘Cheo’ after a popular soap opera and later his teammates named him ‘Meme.’ He is also called ‘El Salta’ in Montevideo, after the city he was born in.
He stint with Groningen was fruitful in terms of goals with 15 goals in 37 appearances but also had disciplinary problems. He received three yellow and one red card in five matches during a period in January 2007.
Suarez stakes increased and was sold to AFC Ajax for €7.5 million at the start of 2007 season. After the initial offer of was rejected by Groningen, he approached Royal Dutch Football Association’s arbitration committee, only to be turned down.
He had a troubled relation with his coach Marco van Basten at Ajax, due to his frequent booking and suspension. Despite his erratic behavior he scored 22 goals in 31 league matches and was named Ajax Player of the Year.
He married his sweetheart, Sofia Balbi, in 2009. They have a son and daughter named Benjamin and Delfina.
In his first stint as captain during the 2009-10, season he was the Eredivisie’s top goal scorer with 35 goals in 33 matches and 49 goals in all form of competition to be named ‘Ajax Player of the Year’ for the second year in succession. He was also declared ‘Dutch Footballer of the Year.’
On January 28, 2011, he was traded to Liverpool F C, for € 26.5 million for a five year term until 2016. Though he was traded he was presented with a winner’s medal after Ajax was crowned the Eredivisie champion at the end of the season.
On the heels of his racial abuse suspension, he was suspended for one match, fined £20,000 and warned for his improper conduct. He was charged for an abusive hand gesture as he walked off the pitch following the 1-0 defeat at Fulham on December 05.
On January 06, 2013, he was into yet another controversy, this time for handling the ball. Suarez’s 19th goal of the season was assisted by clear handball in a decisive 2-1 win over Mansfiled Town. He was subjected to cries of ‘cheat’ from home crowd fans.
As the Premier League’s second top goal scorer for 2012-13, season and Liverpool’s top scorer with 30 goals, he was named as ‘Liverpool’s Player of the Season’by its supporters. He was also named in the ‘PFA Team of the Year.’
On April 21, 2013, he was involved in what was his second biting incident when he bit BranislavIvanovic during a 2-2 draw against Chelsea. He was fined and banned for 10 games.
The 2013-14, season was the zenith of his career when he won the ‘PFA Player of the Year’ award, the first non-European to win. He also was voted ‘Football Association Writers Player of the Year’ apart from winning the ‘Primer League Golden Boot’ with 31 goals in 33 matches.
For the 2014-15, season he moved to Barcelona on a five years contract worth around £64.98 million, making him one of the most expensive players in the world.
In the quarter-final match of 2010 World Cup against Ghana, he blocked a goal bound header with his hand when the match was tied 1 all. Uruguay managed to reach the semi-finals when Ghana missed the resultant penalty and he declared that ‘I made the save of the tournament.’
On June 24, 2014 in the World Cup match against Italy, Suarez lunged forward and bit the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini and was subsequently banned for nine international matches.
Starting his career in 2005, he has played for 14 seasons scoring 348 goals in 530 appearances for various clubs and 49 goals in 95 matches for his national team. He is the Uruguay national team’s all-time top goal scorer surpassing Diego Forlan.