Luis Suarez’s mother, Sandra Diaz, has opened up about some of the challenges and hardships that her son faced trying to make it big as a young footballer in Uruguay. In a report published in France’s Panenka magazine, she also revealed some secrets of Suarez’s initial steps in football and his family.
Born in a small town called Salto in Uruguay, Suarez’s family could not afford to buy a lot of things for him due to their poor financial condition. Growing up, his family could afford only one pair of boots for him – his school shoes – which meant that when he was playing football in the streets, he was barefoot almost all the time as Sandra recalls.
“The only shoes he had were for school, not for playing football. So he usually played without footwear so as to not miss games,” she said to Sport.
However, what Suarez had in abundance even at a young age was an insatiable desire to prove himself, backed by ambition. Sandra went on to recall the time she took a seven-year-old Luis to Uruguay's capital Montevideo for a trial with Club Urreta, a club “of wealthy people”, only to find out there was bad news for them when they reached.
“I took him one night and they told me they’d made the selection," she said. "They had to cut 20 or 30 (kids) down to 15 or 16. Then I went to the coach and told him the situation, that I’d come from Salto, and Maxi (Luis’ brother) convinced him that Luis was a great goal scorer. ‘Ah, he scores goals? Good, we’ll try him. Bring him on Thursday and we’ll see, but I can’t promise anything,’ the manager responded,” according to Sandra.
The first game that the now Barcelona striker played for Urreta was played in a place called Lagomar. His team was losing 2-0 at the end of the first half, and Suarez was brought on in the second half. He scored four goals and single-handedly took his team to victory.
Sandra also spoke about the various nick-names Suarez had while growing up. First, he was called ‘Cheo’, because there was a popular soap opera running around the time he was born in which there was a baby named ‘Cheito’, and hence Suarez’s siblings named him that. Later on, his teammates named him ‘Meme’, and today he is known as ‘El Salta’ in Montevideo, after the city he was born in.
It appears, though, that Suarez was not very attached to his place of birth. Since he spent most of his childhood after the age of 7 in Montevideo, he felt little affinity towards Salto. His mother revealed, “He said, ‘I go to Salto and I don’t even know the streets,’ and there are people who haven’t forgiven him for (saying) that.”
Attributes of a winner
Sandra also had much to say about the former Liverpool man’s ambition and desire. On the pitch for Barcelona, he is always closing opponents down and running relentlessly, and that is a trait which was a part of him him since he was a youngster. “He hated losing. He got angry when he couldn’t score goals, he hated to lose. His impatience always led him to use the same tactic, which was to get in front of the goalkeeper and try to fight him for the ball,” she claimed.
She also said, “I never had to call him in the morning to go to training. he got up on his own, he was always responsible, raining or not. If he didn’t have money for travel, he’d manage to convince someone to take him.”
Luis Suarez is one of the world’s best strikers today, having played for illustrious clubs like Ajax, Liverpool and currently Barcelona. He is one of the contenders for the FIFA World Player of the Year award, for his stellar performances last season for Barcelona where he scored 59 goals and registered 22 assists across all competitions.