"The mind is its own place," wrote John Milton in Paradise Lost, "and in itself can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven." For a professional sportsman the mind is a battlefield, where crises of confidence clash with the ecstasy of victory. For some, the torment is constant and debilitating; for others the demons of uncertainty are crushed by a steely resolve and an unwavering self belief. Luis Suarez belongs to this latter category.
Since his arrival in the opening weeks of 2011, Suarez has plundered 50 goals and 23 assists in just 92 appearances. It is a stunning record, which is only embellished when one considers the variety and brilliance of those strikes and the dizzying invention of the football played by our number seven.
As Suarez carried the teams' attack through the first half of the current campaign, often single handedly and to no avail, many wondered how long such masterful attacker would endure the regular disappointments that had been his lot since becoming a Red. Last summer, rumours abounded and the most recent window saw those whisperings grow more insistent.
However, to watch Luis Suarez go about his work is to witness a man resolutely focused on the game at hand. His emotions are as open as Brendan Rodgers' famous 'communication' and we fans love him for that. A miss is galling, a goal exhilarating, a tackle against infuriating. He snarls, he gesticulates, he goads, he giggles, he remonstrates and he roars with joy. This guy acts like we would act, were we ever lucky enough or good enough to don the Liverbird. He's one of us.
In a cack-handed attempt to describe Suarez's improvisational style, Sky's vapid catalogue model Jamie Redknapp called him a 'streetballer.' Whilst cringeworthy, this description has a modicum of truth to it; for there is something of the street urchin about Suarez as a character. His footballing skill and intelligence, however, place him squarely amongst the elite of the game. That Luis Suarez seems content as a Liverpool player is something to lustily celebrate.
"I'm having a nice time because the club is growing and I feel I'm helping personally," he told El Observador. "I do not know if I'm in the best form but I feel like it is my fate to score and I have to take advantage."
Uruguay stand a precarious fifth in the qualification table heading into the two fixtures this week and Suarez is one card away from a suspension. No doubt many will be willing him to miss out on that second game in order to better preserve him for the Aston Villa match, but Suarez is all too aware of his own temper. "The way referees are now," he said, "I have to take care. The two games ahead are complicated but we must be aware that they are the only chances we have left."
In another interview, this time with AFP, Suarez was even more forthcoming. His cunning side, he claimed, was a vital part of his make up;
"You can lose some things but you can never lose the slyness, the passion that you have had since you were a kid playing in the street. If I didn't have the character that I have today on the pitch, I don't think I would have become the player that I am today."
Speaking about life at Liverpool, Suarez was at once reassuring and frustratingly cagey, in the way of all modern footballers.
"We have to realise we have a new manager who is imposing a philosophy and a way of playing that the players are adapting to as best we can. We hope that it will bear fruit next year."
However, on the subject of his future he was honest if not all together comforting to Liverpool fans. He is careful to clarify his content with Liverpool but one can hardly realistically expect any player to turn down Real Madrid or Barcelona, were they to come calling, and Suarez is a man who could find himself on the receiving end of just such a call.
"I'm in a world class team, an elite team, like Liverpool. And if another team comes around with more chances of competing in international club competition games, which is willing to have me, they are welcome. We would talk to the club. We would see if I want to go, if I don't want to go."
I will not be alone in hoping that Brendan Rodgers' Anfield tenure will provide enough glory for Luis Suarez to remain in red for many seasons to come, for he is a delightful footballer one could never tire of watching and the kind of impressive character that Liverpool Football Club should always strive to employ.