The announcement that one of the country’s greatest players ever will return to the domestic league has caused a stir in Uruguay.
Luis Suarez’s sensational return to Nacional should convince everyone who has any remaining doubts that football can still be a source of wonder and magic. Their confidence in “The Beautiful Game” will be quickly restored.
Anywhere in the world was possible for the forward. As he shown during the past two years at Atletico Madrid, his sense in front of goal is still razor-sharp at the age of 35, making him a valued asset for any team in need of a scoring touch.
But Suarez left the Middle East, the MLS, and Europe to return to his native country.
The veteran returns to Nacional, the club that launched him on the road to success, sixteen years after departing for Groningen as a talented but almost unheard-of young promise.
Suarez has always been motivated by both his heart and mind.
According to the legend, his first move to the Netherlands back in 2006 was mostly motivated by the fact that his childhood sweetheart Sofia Balbo had relocated to Barcelona with her family a few years prior and he saw the Eredivisie switch as a way to be closer to her.
The 16-year-parting old’s words to Sofia were prescient: “I’m going to be a great player, I’ll be sold to Europe, and then I’ll come and see you.” Three children were born to the couple, who are still together today.
The choice to go back to Nacional appears to be driven by personal issues in a similar way.
— Luis Suárez (@LuisSuarez9) July 27, 2022
After spending more than 15 years in Europe, the opportunity for Suarez and his young family to move back across the Atlantic for at least the next four months until the World Cup was too good to pass up.
Even before Nacional expressed interest, he was on the verge of signing with River Plate in neighboring Argentina, which is only a short ferry journey from Montevideo and his home, but he changed his mind after the team’s shocking exit from the Copa Libertadores.
The extraordinary campaign run by supporters of Nacional, however, appears to have had a profound effect on Suarez, tipping the balance irrevocably in their favor.
Suarez thanked the Nacional supporters in the social media video that announced his signing by saying, “I just want to thank you for all the affection me and my family have gotten in the last few days, it’s been great.”
“Every single one of the beautiful videos and letters we’ve gotten has really touched our hearts in this circumstance where we had to make a choice. It was unthinkable to refuse the opportunity to play for Nacional once more.
Tens of thousands of Nacional supporters donned Suarez masks in the Gran Parque Central for the team’s match against Cerrito last Thursday, a stunning display of unity from one of South America’s most fervent fanbases. The movement included about 50 million Twitter users using the hashtag #SuarezANacional across 35 countries.
Nacional’s performance that evening, in which they destroyed Cerrito 5-0 to solidify their position atop Group 2 of the Uruguayan Intermedio tournament, undoubtedly did them no harm either.
They went on to win the tournament outright over Liverpool in Wednesday’s final, their fourth Intermedio title since its introduction in 2017.