To say that Luis Suarez’s time with Liverpool was memorable would be an understatement, for many reasons, not all of them good. But it’s undeniable that Suarez was a key figure in one of the most crucial moments for the club in modern memory.
Suarez represented the start of Liverpool rebuilding itself into a club that could attract the best players in the world. And without a doubt, Suarez was one of the best players in the world when he wore that Liverpool kit, to the eternal consternation of every other club. His technique. exuberance, and short temper made for a difficult combination to play against.
On Wednesday, the man whose name once rang out through Anfield will return once again to his former home when Atletico Madrid face Liverpool in the return leg of the Champions League group stages.
In preparation for this, uefa.com interviewed the controversial star on his time with Liverpool.
On current Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, with whom Suarez played, he said he’s impressed with the growth he’s seen from the player.
“When he joined Liverpool, he came with the tag of somebody who had cost a lot of money,” Suarez said, referencing the infamous summer of CHAD that few Liverpool fans will ever forget. “He was a young, English, coming from Sunderland. This may have put some pressure on him, but as he grew in confidence with the team, he took many things from Gerrard, and from experienced players such as Carragher. He took things on board from me.”
Suarez gave the most respect to Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers, both of whom he credited with keeping him at the club for another year when Arsenal came calling.
“[Rodgers] asked me to believe and trust him. I enjoyed that chat,” Suarez admitted. “I liked his conviction, the philosophy he wanted to implement at the club, so I talked to my agent and the club to say that I didn’t want to leave, that I wanted another opportunity to be successful at Liverpool. That year wasn’t as good as we wanted, but ideas were already pretty clear. So then the 2012/13 season goes by, and I wanted to sign for Arsenal, since Arsenal had played in the Champions League every season prior to that.”
It was a call from Gerrard that kept Suarez with the Reds for that last, fateful season.
“I had some further discussions with the coach, as well as with Gerrard. He was the one that convinced me. I told him I wanted to keep being successful, that I wanted to play in the Champions League. So, he said to me, ‘If this year we keep improving as we have been, and you’re at the level you have to be, next year you’ll be able to play for Bayern München, Real Madrid, Barcelona, or whatever club you like. You’ll have the chance to choose, but stay for one more year.’”
Suarez’s recounting of that story puts that final season and his subsequent World Cup antics into perspective. It was clear to everyone at the club that he would only stick it out for one more season before moving on, and he made sure that happened in Brazil.
Suarez and his current teammates come to Anfield on Wednesday evening, weeks after losing at their own home turf. With any luck, Suarez will once again experience the roar of the Liverpool faithful from the other side.