A player most Ghanaians hate for his famous ‘Hand of God’ that prevented Ghana’s Black Stars from being the first African nation to play in a semi final of a FIFA World Cup, Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz had a rough beginning. Suarez had to defy all odds to be with the love of his life Sofia Balbi.
Sofia’s sister used to date a footballer who was by then playing in Nacional’s youth team, Uruguay’s best team. Luis Suarez was also playing in that team. That’s how he met Sofia. The self confident and humble Suarez, who came from a poor family, had found the love of his life. It was love at first sight!
Suárez grew up in Salto alongside six siblings, with a single mother. His older brother Paolo Suárez is also a professional football player.Suarez had no money to provide his family the basic needs of life, especially food and clothing. He spent most of his time at Sofia’s house in order to get food to eat. Sofia’s parents were fond of him which was very unusual. Football was the only way for Suarez to escape from poverty.
Economic crisis affected most parts of South America in 2002 as Argentina and Uruguay were not left out. This crisis was a blessing in disguise for Suarez. Sofia’s dad used to work in a bank until the crisis and this affected the family financially so he decided to move to Barcelona in 2004.Sofia would later join her dad in Spain. Suarez became the man of the house when Sofia’s dad was away .He provided for all their needs.
Sofia (14) and Suarez (17) were inseparable but Sofia had to leave the love of her life to start a new chapter in her life. The night before her departure to Spain, Luis cried like a baby. He begged his manager to buy him a ticket so that he could visit Sofia in Spain. Suarez eventually visited her the following year. Suarez moved back to Uruguay to continue his career. In 2005, he began professional career at Montevideo side Nacional. In Uruguay, under the management of ConCon, Suárez won the national championship. In his first season with the club he scored 13 goals but only played in 16 games.
Sofia never enjoyed her time in Barcelona because she had missed Suarez. Then in 2006, El Pistolero who was so eager to go to Europe moved to the Netherlands with Eredivisie side Groningen in 2006 at the age of 19. FC Groningen purchased him for approximately € 800,000. Luis begged Sofia’s parents to let her join him in Groningen. Initially they objected but Suarez was able to convince them and he had fought for the love of his life.
During his first season in Europe, Suárez performed well at FC Groningen, scoring 10 goals in 29 appearances. His impressive play attracted the attention of other European clubs and, the following season, he was sold to Ajax for 7.5 million euros.
The transfer initially seemed doomed when Suárez lost his case before the Dutch Football Association’s arbitration committee. That same day, however, Ajax informed Groningen that they would be willing to pay more for him. He made a major impact at the Amsterdam club as a supporting striker with the main striker initially being Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, then Marko Pantelić, and later Mounir El Hamdaoui. Following the arrival of manager Martin Jol at Ajax and the departure of Thomas Vermaelen to Arsenal in 2009, Suárez was made the club captain.
Suárez received a lot of negative attention in the 2008–09 season, due to the high number of yellow cards he received. He ended that season with 22 goals from 31 games in the league, finishing second in the top-scorers table, a goal behind Mounir El Hamdaoui of AZ (now at Ajax).
He married Sofia Balbi in 2009, and they had their first daughter, Delfina, on 5 August, 2010 in Barcelona.
In 2010, Suárez was named Dutch Footballer of the Year, having ended the season as top scorer in the Eredivisie with 35 goals in 33 league matches (49 goals in all competitions). Also in 2010, Suárez became a member of the select group of players having scored more than 100 goals for Ajax in competitive matches, joining players like Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
In November 2010, Ajax suspended Suárez for two league matches after he bit PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal on the shoulder during their 0–0 draw on 20 November 2010. He was also fined an undisclosed amount which the club said they would donate to a “good cause”. The Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf branded Suarez the “Cannibal of Ajax”. The KNVB penalized Suárez with a suspension for seven league matches. Because of his suspension, Suárez did not play any league matches under new manager Frank de Boer.
During the 2010 World Cup Suarez scored three goals, made six appearances. During the Round of 16, he scored both goals against South Korea in a 2–1 win and put Uruguay through to the quarter-finals for the first time since 1970. Suárez was an integral part of the Uruguayan team that reached the semi-final, forming a formidable partnership with Diego Forlán, before eventually losing to the Netherlands (Suárez was suspended for the semi-final against Holland). He gained worldwide notoriety during the quarter final match against Ghana for handling the ball on the line in the last minute of extra-time and then celebrating Asamoah Gyan’s subsequent penalty miss.
Suarez moved to Liverpool for €26.5 million in January 2011, briefly becoming the club’s most expensive player. The following day, Suárez passed his medical and signed a five and a half-year deal that will keep him with the club until 2016. Suarez was awarded the number 7 shirt previously worn by manager Kenny Daglish. He became the club’s record signing for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes until the arrival of Andy Carroll from Newcastle United.
Sofia hopes to be with Suarez forever and that they might never be separated again.