When it was announced that Luis Suarez was joining Barcelona from Liverpool in the summer of 2014, some people were concerned that Lionel Messi wouldn’t see eye to eye with the Uruguayan striker.
Unlike Messi, Suarez was continually attracting negative headlines because of his behaviour on the pitch.
Indeed, the Uruguay international was serving a four-month ban from all football-related activities when he completed his £75 million move to Camp Nou after biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup.
This was the third biting incident of Suarez’s topsy-turvy career and Barça were criticised by some for signing the former Premier League star.
As their friendship grew off the pitch, so did their telepathic understanding on it.
And in February 2016, Messi and Suarez combined to score one of football’s cheekiest and most iconic penalties during a 6-1 victory against Celta Vigo.
Messi had the opportunity to score his 300th league goal for Barça but stunned the 70,000-strong crowd inside Camp Nou by passing the ball to Suarez, who converted from close range.
Video: Messi and Suarez’s penalty from the stands
Footage of their iconic penalty, filmed from the stands, was recently posted to social media and you can watch it here:
And here’s another angle of one of the most audacious penalties in football history:
What was said about Messi and Suarez’s pass penalty?
“Some will like it, some won’t,” Barcelona’s then manager Luis Enrique admitted after the match.
He was right. Some labelled the ‘indirect penalty’ disrespectful and arrogant.
But others admired the audacity of two world-class footballers scoring a penalty that’s much harder to execute than it might appear – just ask Thierry Henry and Robert Pires.
“I suppose it’s something that people will talk about because it was unusual,” Andres Iniesta said. “But it wasn’t a lack of respect. We are very respectful to our opponents and I don’t think there’s any need for a debate.”
The Messi-Suarez spot-kick brought back memories of Johan Cruyff’s famous penalty with Ajax teammate Jesper Olsen in 1982.
Cruyff, who was battling cancer in February 2016 and sadly passed away one month later, was thrilled after watching Messi and Suarez repeat the trick.
“It made me very happy what Messi did,” Cruyff said, per ESPN. “I don’t know if he saw [Cruyff’s own] move, maybe he did, but if anyone can do anything like that, it is him. Then I saw people were talking about my penalty. It makes you happy for people to remember you after so many years. It’s lovely — the things football gives you.”
He added: “How could it be a lack of respect? In that time, nobody thought about such a thing. This is football — something different, entertaining, that’s what football is — a game, a pastime.
“What Messi did was to enjoy himself, and for the fans to enjoy themselves. The lack of respect is not recognising that Celta played a great game, and it was a tough game for Barca.”
Suarez and Messi: Friends for life
Suarez scored a total in 198 goals in 283 matches for Barcelona before leaving the club in rather abrupt circumstances in September 2020.
Messi was reportedly furious with the way that his friend was unceremoniously offloaded by Ronald Koeman. Barça’s greatest ever player ended up leaving Camp Nou the following summer.
Although Messi now plays in Paris and Suarez plies his trade with Atletico Madrid, the pair remain close friends and their families continue to meet up and holiday together whenever they get the chance.
Few would have predicted back in 2014 that these two would end up becoming friends for life.
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