Luis Suarez, key to Uruguayan World Cup glory, has undergone knee surgery this week to repair damage to his meniscus. The Liverpool striker felt “intense pain” during training with the national squad and was taken to the hospital where he underwent his procedure. The injury comes just over three weeks prior to the start of the tournament, but Suarez is still hopeful that he will be able to make an appearance in Uruguay’s first World Cup match on June 14 against Costa Rica.
The player has, by most metrics, been one of the best football players of the last season. Though he did not have the opportunity to play in European tournaments, his exploits for Liverpool in his record breaking campaign have won him numerous awards. Despite missing the first few games of the 2013-14 season, Suarez managed to score 31 goals in 33 games, earning him the Premier League Golden Boot award. He also managed to win the Football Association Writers award for the best player in England, as well as becoming the first non-European player to win the PFA Player of the Year award, voted on by the English players’ trade union, the Professional Footballers Association. He will certainly be hopeful that he can add World Cup hardware to this year’s spectacular haul as well.
This impressive campaign has helped the Uruguayan distance himself from previous controversies. Suarez has been suspended on a number of occasions while in the Barclay’s Premier League. In his first full season in England, he was suspended eight games for racially abusing Frenchman Patrice Evra of Manchester United. He has also had two incidences in which he has bitten another player, the most recent being in 2013 when he apparently bit the ear of Chelsea’s Ivanovic, for which he was fined and suspended 10 games. During his suspension, the Suarez publicly stated his desire to leave Liverpool, but later changed his mind, due to the support of fans of the club.
One of his most memorable controversies, however, came in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. During the quarter final match against Ghana, Suarez saved what would have been the game-winning goal by using his hands. Ghanaian striker Gyan hit the crossbar on the ensuing penalty kick, pushing the game into extra-time, where Uruguay took the game on spot kicks. Due to this red card, though, Suarez was unavailable for the semi-final game against Holland, which Uruguay subsequently lost.
The recovery time for meniscus surgery can be anywhere from two to four weeks, or even longer, depending on the person. United’s Phil Jones had similar surgery two years ago, and required 10 weeks to see action again, a length of time that would see Suarez watching the World Cup from the sidelines. If that is the case, Uruguay will have a much more difficult road to glory in this years tournament, so coach Oscar Tabarez will undoubtedly be hopeful that his player will be available for every game of the upcoming World Cup, following a speedy recovery from his surgery. Playing in Brazil, so close to home, a healthy Luis Suarez will have the squad looking forward to another successful campaign, perhaps even daring to dream of a berth to the finals.
Commentary by Bryan A. Jones