As a kid, Uruguay's Suarez had a temper but not a biter

Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:45pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Patricia Avila

SALTO Uruguay (Reuters) - Uruguay's star striker Luis Suarez always had a temper when things did not go well on the pitch but coaches, relatives and neighbors remember him as a happy kid in no way destined to be hit with a record World Cup ban for biting another player.

Suarez's life in soccer began at the age of 4 in a team linked to the club where his father, a soldier, was a player. His talent and his drive to succeed were obvious from the start.

"He already had that spark. He was very intelligent, he was always scoring and they all followed him. But he would get angry at himself when things didn't work out, if he missed goals," said Richard Suarez, who coached the player in his home town of Salto in Uruguay's northwest.

Still, he and others who knew Suarez said he showed the normal passion of a talented player. Like most Uruguayans, they have rallied behind the 27-year-old since he was thrown out of the World Cup in Brazil and banned from soccer for four months for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.

"He was really mischievous but he never did anything like that here," said Suarez, who is not a relative of the player despite having the same surname. "They killed him with that punishment, it was too much."

Known in Uruguay as "El Pistolero", or "The Gunslinger", Suarez was one of seven children raised in a modest home next to an army barracks in Salto, where his father worked.

The family moved to the capital Montevideo when Suarez was 7 and there he made his way up through youth teams at Nacional, one of Uruguay's top two clubs.

As a teenager, Suarez allegedly head butted a referee during one game. The details are sketchy and people linked to him are reluctant to discuss it but they insist he was not a problem player and that there no other incidents during his career in Uruguay before he moved to Europe.   Continued...

Uruguay's national soccer team player Luis Suarez attends a news conference prior a training session at the Dunas Arena soccer stadium in Natal, June 23, 2014.     REUTERS/Carlos Barria