An opportunistic, predatory finisher with a competitive, not to say fiery streak, the 26-year-old Luis Suarez is now recognised as one of the world’s best strikers. A born leader at his club side Liverpool, he is also an undisputed first choice for his country.
Nicknamed El Pistolero, Suarez was only 18 when he made his debut for Nacional. In his one and only complete season with the Montevideo club he struck 12 goals to help fire them to the 2006 Uruguayan league title, at which point he moved to Dutch side Groningen.
His new club refused to release him for the qualifying competition for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007, though within a month Oscar Tabarez had given him his full international debut in a friendly against Colombia, a game in which he was sent off with five minutes remaining.
The scorer of 14 goals in 35 games for Groningen, Suarez then made the move to Dutch giants Ajax, scoring two goals for his country at Canada 2007 before the deal went through.
It came as no surprise when Tabarez handed him a starting place in the qualifiers for South Africa 2010, Suarez being the only player to figure in 19 of the 20 games and ending the competition as his side’s second-highest scorer with five goals.
After enjoying the most prolific season of his club career with Ajax, amassing 49 goals in 48 appearances, the front-man had plenty to say for himself in South Africa, playing in six of Uruguay’s seven games and chipping in with three goals.
Suarez had moved to Liverpool by the time he made a four-goal contribution to La Celeste’s win at the 2011 Copa America, where he was named player of the tournament, although he failed to find the back of the net in three outings at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012.
He has been back in among the goals lately for both club and country, currently standing second in the scoring charts in the English Premier League this season and in the South American qualifiers for Brazil 2014.