Happy birthday Luis Suarez! The iconic Uruguayan forward turns 36 today, and despite entering the twilight of his career is still showing no signs of slowing down, with the colourful figure scoring a first-half hat-trick on his debut for Brazilian side Gremio last week in a 4-1 win over Sao Luiz.
Suarez has always been a character who has split opinion, and he has had a particularly tumultuous relationship with Manchester United due to his past as a Liverpool hero and a number of highly controversial incidents. Here, Express Sport looks back at a few key moments which stoked the United fires.
Patrice Evra incident
It was one of the most unsavoury sagas in the Premier League’s history. During a clash between United and Liverpool at Anfield in 2011, Suarez was accused of using a racial slur towards Red Devils defender Patrice Evra. He was later slapped with an eight-game ban and hit with a £40,000 fine from the FA.
During the next meeting between the two sides, Suarez appeared to refuse to shake Evra’s hand, leading to an angry reaction from the Frenchman. But it was manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s furious post-match interview which will also be remembered for a long time…
Fergie lets loose
Ferguson certainly didn’t hold back in his assessment of Suarez’s behaviour on that infamous day when questioned by Sky Sports. “For a club with their history, I’d get rid of him, I really would,” the incandescent Scotsman said. “He is a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club. That player should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again.
“The history that club has got … and he does that today. It could have caused a riot. I was really disappointed in that guy.”
Liverpool’s manager at the time, Kenny Dalglish, felt differently, arguing: “I think you’re very severe and I think you’re bang out of order to blame Luis Suarez for anything that happened here today.”
He later apologised for his response, admitting he handled the situation badly, but at the time tensions between the two clubs could not have been any higher.
Anti-United contract clause
Suarez left Liverpool in 2014 to join Barcelona, where he would go on to score an incredible 198 goals in 283 appearances over six seasons at the Nou Camp. In 2020 the club decided the time had come to move him on, however, and at one stage he was sensationally linked with a move to his old enemy United.
However, it later emerged that there was a clause in his contract that prevented him from joining any ‘elite’ club, which included the likes of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain – and, of course, United.
The thought of Suarez lining up for the home side at Old Trafford is almost unthinkable, and it seems highly unlikely that the move would have gone ahead anyway.
What a story it would have been, though…