The only person who isn't worried about Luis Suarez being absent from the World Cup is Luis Suarez. Ever since sustaining a knee injury that required surgery a few weeks ago, the Uruguayan media have locked on to Suarez like the eye of Sauron, lidless and unblinking in their quest to suss out the state of their country's star player.
Unfortunately for them, they're having a hard time getting any updates on his status. In a display of media savvy previously uncharacteristic of Suarez, he has been rehabbing indoors away from the prying eyes of journalists and photographers in order to avoid causing mass panic on a national scale should he be caught on camera in a state that is anything less than fully fit. The public's concern for the physical aside, though, Suarez believes it's the psychological aspect of his game that will give him the upper hand on his injury.
"I'm an emotional person and I externalise my feelings a lot with some things but I'm strong with others," Suarez explained in a lengthy interview with the Guardian. "Injuries are not only a physical question, which is the most important thing of course, but also a question of your mind. If you're thinking: 'I'm not going to make it', 'I can't cope', 'it hurts', 'it's never going to get better', then it won't. My objective was clear: be strong emotionally and physically. I wanted my children to be able to see me play at the World Cup.
"Of course there was the normal worry there always is when you undergo an operation … and an operation is always an operation. At first I had to rest completely. I couldn't put weight on it at all. To see my wife worried, saying: 'don't move', 'sit still', 'stay there'; to not be able to put the kids to bed or bath them; was hard. But I was more concerned about that than not making it. If they had said to me that the extent of the injury was greater, I'd have been worried. But knowing the grade of the injury, I was confident. I knew that there was time to make it carefully so there was no point in risking trying to get ahead of myself. I would rather get there just on time but be sure that it is right."
If you're super interested in the details of Suarez's rehab techniques — spoiler alert: it involves a rubber band! — he describes it in great detail in the full interview. It also brings a new story to light in which a twelve-year-old Suarez got hit by a car, continued playing football on a foot he did not know was broken, and then proceeded to wear a hole through the cast he received once he realised he had broken a bone in his foot. Because of course he did.
Suarez also took some time to talk about the much hyped group stage match between Uruguay and England. The striker revealed that post-match shirt swapping is not nearly the spontaneous activity it's made out to be, and texts between club mates take on new and twisted lives in the press when they're set to face each other on the international stage. But as much as Suarez is looking forward to playing against Steven Gerrard et al, much of the anticipation comes from how Uruguayans have adopted Liverpool as their own since he joined the club.
"This is the game everyone is looking forward to most here," Suarez said. "It’s incredible to see how Uruguayans have followed Liverpool; they’ve become fans and that makes me feel very proud. To see an entire country waiting on the Liverpool games is incredible or to see people angry because they can’t watch it because it’s only on satellite TV. People are getting up early in the morning to watch us play."
The mark of true fans, surely. With World Cup matches mostly taking place in their own time zone, Uruguayans won't have to wake up at the crack of dawn to watch their team and, if they're lucky, Luis Suarez will present on their televisions right from the start of the tournament.