The story of Luis Suarez's disastrous first day in Barcelona

The Uruguayan is now an idol at Camp Nou and one of the stars of the 2016 Goal 50, but his first visit to the city did not go smoothly

SPECIAL REPORT
 

Luis Suarez was a typical teenager. He did not shy away from expressing his emotions. He wanted to cry, so he did. He rolled on the bed wailing, filling his room with tears because his girlfriend Sofia was no longer there. His brothers tried to rouse him out of his anguish: "Come on, stop messing around; you've got a game today." 

Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez? Click here to see the countdown of the 50 best players in the world in the 2016 Goal 50

Suarez was certain football would neither be his life nor his livelihood. He was 15, playing in the Nacional youth set-up in Uruguayan capital Montevideo. He was a poor student, went out almost every night and failed to perform on the pitch. Chiefs at Nacional were already preparing to let him go. 

Sofia, meanwhile, was from a wealthier family, whose parents had separated. She lived in Solymar, 24 kilometres from Montevideo. The relationship started as a typical teenage romance, with stolen moments together, furtive kisses, but it slowly became more and more serious. She was a couple of years younger and a serene personality, and helped to calm down the raging young bull. The rebel started to calm down. 

However, Suarez's world fell apart when Sofia's father, who worked in a bank that closed down during the economic crisis of the start of the 21st century, moved his family to Barcelona. The angry Suarez returned with a vengeance. 

He, thus, asked his agent, Daniel Fonseca, to help him seal a move to Barcelona. He somehow scraped the money together to get on a plane and landed in the Catalan city with a single small suitcase. At El Prat airport he could not even tell immigration authorities where he was going. "I didn't have anything. I came in a white shirt and I had a nosebleed. Sofia was waiting for me in the airport, but the flight had landed two hours late and I still could not come out. I was held there and I didn't know why," Suarez explained to  El Pais

To think that now the 29-year-old sharpshooter is the toast of Barcelona, and one of the stars of Goal 50, who has his own exclusive entrance to come and go from the airport as he pleases. 

Suarez adds: "I was told I didn't have any address to go to. I explained that I was going to spend a few days seeing the mountains and the sea, which was what I had seen from the plane. My suitcase was opened and Sofia's aunt had sent me a package for a relative which had a telephone number and address." 

After several hours of remonstrations, he was allowed to leave. Those 15 days with Sofia, who would become the mother of his children Delfina and Benjamin, were vital. "We went to the typical tourist sight and I saw Camp Nou from the outside, I couldn't go in and I didn't have the money for the tour," he said. 

Some years later, Suarez was offered the chance to play in Netherlands, at an unfamiliar club. He had never heard of Groningen but he didn't care. He would have to leave Nacional, his boyhood idols for whom he had played just a handful of games, to play in a team which barely anyone in Uruguay could even pronounce. But he did not waver. In Netherlands, he would be closer to what he most yearned for, Sofia, who was still waiting for him in Barcelona.