Luis Suarez is number 34 in 90min’s Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time series
Luis Suarez, arguably the greatest Spanish player of the 20th century, won a lot of things. He played a lot of football – some 500-and-several club games, plus a chunk for the national team.
He played for Barcelona. He played for Inter. He played for Spain and he played, a little, for Deportivo La Coruña and Sampdoria to book-end his career.
We’re going to focus a little on the middle three here, because…well, you hit your best moments in your prime, don’t you?
Atletico Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (12/04/59)
Starting a list of the five greatest moments of one of the best footballers of all time…with a 1-1 draw away to Atleti. What of it? Don’t like it? Write your own list.
Anyway, it’s not just any 1-1 draw away at Atleti. It is, thanks to Athletic Club’s
1960 Ballon d’Or
Alright, winning the Ballon d’Or didn’t necessarily mean you were the best player in the world until 2007 (not the 1995 George Weah thing! You still had to be playing at a European club there!) but it was still a pretty big deal.
Coming off back-to-back La Liga titles and a win in the 1958-60 Fairs Cup (that’s not a typo, it was played over the course of two full seasons, weird), Suarez became the first player in four years to break Real Madrid’s hold on the shiny globe. Nice one.
Inter 6-0 Genoa (10/03/63)
While Suarez was reasonably prolific in Spain, he found goalscoring a little more difficult in Italy – although it may be fairer to say that goalscoring was less necessary at Inter, playing in a deeper-lying role in a team built around structure, with counter-attacks and flying full-backs.
In his first title-winning season at San Siro, late in the season, having scored four goals in his 21 other appearances in Serie A that season, he went on the rampage against the Genoese – striking three times in the second half to become the first Spaniard to record a hat-trick in the Italian top flight.
That mark stood for 53 years, until Suso romped all over Frosinone in 2016. The team he scored it for? Genoa, of course.
1964 European Cup Final
Losing a European Cup final sucks. Even if your team is great, if you’re a cracking player, you might only get one shot. Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp, Roberto Mancini – all great players with fantastic careers, but each of them lost their only European Cup final appearance.
Fabio Cannavaro? Roberto Baggio? ACTUAL RONALDO? Never even made the European Cup final.
Luis Suarez’s Barcelona team lost to Bela Guttmann’s Benfica in the 1961 final, and he left the club almost instantly for a new adventure in Italy. He didn’t win anything in his first season, won Serie A in the second and made it to the European Cup final in his third.
Against old rivals Real Madrid, he shone – as ever – in a 3-1 win. Noice.
1964 European Championship Final
The Euros used to have four teams. Weird. In the 1964 edition, Sanchez first came up against a Hungary team without many of the best Hungarian players of the era (see: the Hungarian revolution and associated political and social mess).
Former teammates and rivals
For more from Chris Deeley, follow him on Twitter at @ThatChris1209!