Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has claimed that he understands why Luis Suarez is detested by opposition players, but said that the striker is nothing like he is portrayed by the media.
The Uruguayan International has remained in the midst of controversies since making a switch to Anfield from Ajax in January 2011.
Last season, the Football Association meted out an eight-match embargo on the 26-year-old after finding him guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
Besides, Suarez has also remained a topic of discussion this whole season for faking dives to win over decisions in his favour and has been brandished as a ‘cheat’ by multiple players and managers. Very recently, the Reds hit-man admitted to carrying out simulations.
Although Suarez has wreaked havoc with defences frequently this term and has been Rodgers main man, the Northern Irishman recalls how it felt like being his opponent.
The former Swansea City manager revealed he viewed him as a ‘pest’ inside the box during his spell at the Liberty Stadium, and said that the striker remained unfazed despite being constantly vituperated by the media and crowds in England.
Rodgers told reporters: "I know what it was like when I faced him as an opposing manager.
"I always viewed him as a pest around the penalty area and you know that players like that usually have the quality to score at any given time.
"It’s not his job to be liked, he’ll be respected because he’s a top football player and it won’t concern him too much if people don’t like him.
"The likability of any player is always up for debate, and people will always use their own moral compass to judge Luis Suarez, but that’s not something I tend to focus on.
"I concentrate on what he is like with me on a day-to-day basis and he is a great man."
Suarez’s blistering form this campaign, which has seen him score 22 league goals in 30 appearances, has put him in pole position to run away with the PFA Player of the Year award, with Gareth Bale and Robin van Persie touted as other strong contenders.
However, the Uruguayan’s consistency and his notable contributions for Liverpool earned him his manager’s backing who thinks he deserves recognition for his performances.
Rodgers added: “There are other contenders, of course – players like Gareth Bale have been outstanding for Tottenham for example.
"But I think that Luis’ consistency and the impact he has had for us this season means that he would be my candidate to win."