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martedì 16 ottobre 2012

Great Player: Luis 'Luisito' Suarez, genius midfielder with Barca and Inter

Great master of Spanish football, Luis Suárez (born in La Coruña, 1935) was one of the stars of the Barça side of the late fifties, but sadly his greatest and most successful period came when he was no longer a Barça player. He had everything you could want of a footballer: amazing skill, an amazing talent for moving the ball about with his feet, great vision and a tremendous shot. But he was mainly noted for his elegant style, it was often said he was such a graceful player that he could have played in a dinner jacket. Between 1955 and 1961 Suárez was a regular in a FC Barcelona team that also included Ladislao Kubala, Zoltán Czibor, Sándor Kocsis, Ramallets and Evaristo. With Helenio Herrera as coach, the club and Suárez won a La Liga/Copa del Generalísimo double in 1959 and a La Liga/Fairs Cup double in 1960. Born in 1935, Suarez currently works in the technical secretary's office at his former club Inter Milan, where his elegance, skill on the ball, vision and crucial goals were highly appreciated during I Nerazzurris's trophy-laden 1960s. The young Suarez had first caught the eye at hometown club Deportivo La Coruna before making the switch to Barcelona in 1954, where he went on to win two league titles, two Spanish Cups and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups during his seven-season stay.

Yet his glorious spell at the Catalan giants ended with the disappointment of a 3-2 defeat against Benfica in the final of the 1960/61 European Cup. "That's the only black mark on my time at Barcelona," said Suarez, who will have taken some consolation from helping Barça become the first team ever to knock Real Madrid out of the elite competition. "But it was the only one I lost out of so many finals, though given the way the game went it was one we should have won. It left me with a point to prove because it's such a huge competition." It was then time for the Galician genius to head to Italian football, this during a period when it was highly unusual for Spanish players to ply their trade abroad. "There have been a lot of Spanish players who have deserved that award," said Suarez on the Ballon d'Or win which had done much to raise his international profile. "So much depends on the era you find yourself living in. You need the slice of luck that comes when another great player of your time doesn't perform quite so well. There have been truly great players who have never won that award. It's not that big a deal." 

Suarez's silky skills were key to a Nerazzurri side crowned European champions in 1963/64 and 1964/65 under legendary strategist Helenio Herrera, who had coached him for a spell at Barcelona. "The Italian league had a reputation for being more defensive than it really was. Even so, teams' first priority was not to concede any goals and I came from a place with a different mindset," said the 74-year-old, on the contrast between Spanish and Italian football. "At Barcelona I played as a goalscoring midfielder but (at Inter) I had to change for the good of the team and to win titles. At the end of the day, I think I was so successful because I made so many sacrifices for a sport I loved."

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