World famous wordsmith Oscar Wilde once said that the ‘only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.’
This famous quote applies perfectly to Liverpool’s talismanic forward Luis Suarez, who in a record breaking season has redeemed himself after being labeled the ultimate footballing pariah after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic at the tail end of last season.
The crisis threatened to consume the Uruguayan, who, aside from being given a 10 game ban by the FA, was nearly driven out of the English game altogether such was the fierce intensity and volume of assassinations on his character by the blood thirsty British press.
Somehow he survived the media maelstrom and is now currently enjoying the best season of his career, which confirms that the Luis Suarez the sinner, and man so many people love to hate, has one the brightest futures in world football.
At the time of writing, Liverpool sit proudly atop the Premier League and remain on the cusp of claiming their first league title in 22 years. Irrespective of whether they win the league or not, Suarez will play in the Champions League next season, a stage he craves and one his talent deserves.
On a personal level, things could not get much better for Suarez, who will surely be the front-runner for all the domestic ‘Player of the Year’ awards at the end of season ceremonies.
Incredibly, Suarez currently has 29 Premier League despite only playing 27 games, and has blazed a trail that has seen him surpass fellow Anfield legend Robbie Fowler as the most prolific Liverpool player in single season in the Premier League era.
But before he caught fire and found the form of his life, he had to work hard to find redemption from the Anfield faithful after he soured relations by threatening to leave Liverpool in the aftermath of the infamous Ivanovic incident.
These tense times are now a distant memory and Suarez is once again the darling of the fans, as the Kop have shown their capacity to forgive and forget the past in favour of focusing on the future.
Unfortunately, many within the football world are unable or unwilling to move on. In the eyes of his detractors, his reputation will be forever tarnished by the unsavoury racism saga involving Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and the biting debacles he has twice been involved in his career- Suarez was also convicted of the same offence when playing for Ajax.
To be fair to his critics, Suarez has rightly received widespread condemnation for his actions, which have no place on a football pitch, or anywhere else for that matter. But, one must realise that with players such as Suarez, who play so close to edge, there is always a danger that they can fall off with devastating results.
The amazing passion he has for the game is the defining factor of his success and is so often a positive force but, on the other hand, when harnessed in the wrong way it manifests itself in a negative and harmful manner.
It is easy for people to fall prey to the many popular miss preconceptions about Suarez, pedaled by the media via the countless articles that have portrayed him as the ultimate footballing pariah.
However, the latest edition FourFourTwo magazine - in which Suarez is the cover star - offers a fascinating insight into the true character of Liverpool’s talismanic sharpshooter. The interview helps to shatters some of myths perpetuated by the negative press he receives.
For instance, it may surprise you to hear that Suarez has been totally devoted to one woman, his beloved wife Sofia, for his entire adult life - they have been together since he was 16 years old.
He is clearly a humble human being and a very proud father who values, above all else, family life and privacy as opposed to partying and off the field idiocy. All of his problems have stemmed from moments of madness on the pitch - never has he suffered any adverse publicity in his private life, which is more than can be said for many Premier League footballers.
He seems to have a bit of Jekyll and Hyde about his personality, in that as soon as he crosses the white line he changes from Luis Suarez, the devoted, fun loving family man into ‘El Pistolero’ (The Gunslinger): a cold blooded assassin with the dead eyed stare and killer instincts to match even the most ruthless of mafia hit men.
Yet his win at all costs mentality and on the pitch persona could not be further removed from the charming and disarming character he is away from the field of play.
Suarez stated in the interview with FourFourTwo: “Away from the pitch, I’m a very calm person. On the pitch, I argue, I shout, I talk rubbish and generally do anything I can to get ahead. I’m totally different. I forget about everything else.”
His international team mate Diego Forlan echoes the same sentiments when he commented that on the pitch Suarez is, “an aguerrido- a warrior, a soldier who has been through war, a fighter for every ball.
“He still is, but there is another side to him. From when I first started speaking to him I could see he was polite, respectful and keen to learn. He’s a very nice guy who is completely different off the pitch to on it.”
Instead of vilifying Suarez for his flaws, we should try and accept his imperfections and embrace the fact that he can oscillate from the sublime to the bizarre in the blink of an eye.
Sure, Suarez does have the penchant for provocative and oft time’s controversial behavior but, without this edge he would not be so prone to the moments of sheer footballing genius he consistently produces.
In short, the Premier League is a far more exciting place with the effervescent presence of Luis Suarez and he would be sorely missed if he elected to leave English football.
Luis Suarez will never be a Saint. But he is a former Sinner with a very bright future. So let’s forget the past and concentrate more on the magic that will come from the maverick forward.
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