English football has been graced by South American greats such as Ardiles, Villa, Agüero, Juninho, Tevez and Coutinho, yet only one has ever been named FWA Footballer of the Year: Luis Suárez.
Suárez has long been a controversial character with three bans for biting during his career alongside a suspension for racially abusing Patrice Evra, an accusation he denies.
There is an argument to be made that Suárez’s behaviour has not lived up to the standards Charles Buchan first set for the award to be presented “to the professional player who by precept and example is considered by a ballot of members to be the footballer of the year.”
However, his skill on a football pitch cannot be denied and it was this that was rewarded with the FWA Footballer of the Year award for 2014.
Suárez scored 31 goals in 33 league games finishing the season as the top scorer and became the first non-European winner of the FWA award. He was also voted by his fellow professionals the PFA Player of the Year.
Despite his personal success Suárez was unable to lead Liverpool to a trophy that season as the Reds fell agonisingly short of a first League title in 24 years, finishing 2 points behind Manchester City.
Suárez’s career began in his native Uruguay making his first team debut for Nacional aged 18, after only one season the teenage Suárez was transferred to Gronigen in the Netherlands.
Suárez spent just one year at Gronigen before signing for Duth giants Ajax where he excelled over the following three and a half seasons winning the Eredivisie title and the KNVB Cup.
There had been disciplinary issues throughout Suárez’s career but Liverpool looked past these and in return they got the services of a phenomenal striker.
At the end of his first full season in England Suárez had helped Liverpool to the League Cup. It was the only trophy he won in England but that does not take away from the impact he had at the club.
Suárez was pipped to the 2013 FWA trophy by Gareth Bale but by 2014 he received over 50% of all votes as he scooped up the award.
This turned out to be one of his final acts in England as just a few weeks later Suárez moved to Barcelona for £65million, at the time the third highest transfer fee in football history.
A controversial character no doubt, but also a wonderfully gifted goalscorer.
What Luis said:
“It is amazing for me and the club as well, for many years, there have been a lot of big players who have won this prize.
“Thank you so much to all the Football Writers who voted for me because they recognised my work on the pitch, and they know that I try my best to help Liverpool.
“I know that it was a difficult time for me one or two years ago, but I accept that criticism, but then if you concentrate and focus to help the team, everything can be perfect.
“I am an easy guy outside the pitch, and on the pitch I know I changed, but because I love the football, I have fought so hard to stay at this level.”