Enigma Suarez driven by will to win at all costs

Enigma Suarez driven by will to win at all costs
Uruguay's Luis Suarez.

LONDON - Combining game-changing brilliance with headline-grabbing controversy, Uruguay striker Luis Suarez's last World Cup was his career in microcosm.

In the space of a few weeks in South Africa four years ago, he forged a reputation as a sharp-eyed goal-getter, before joining the tournament's hall of infamy for a goal line handball that ultimately deprived opponents Ghana a place in the semi-finals.

It is a pattern that has repeated throughout a footballing career where the peaks have been moments of maverick ability and ingenuity that have propelled him into the stratosphere of the game's elite.

The troughs, however, have come to define him as a player and a personality and have included two lengthy suspensions for biting, one for racist abuse and a reputation for diving that has stuck with him despite valiant efforts to shed it.

His abundant quality has never been in doubt. He has a unique ability to engineer and get the better of defenders in one-on-one situations, a deadly finish and a knack for pulling off the spectacular.

That can be lethal when combined with a streak of sheer competitiveness and a healthy distaste for defeat that gives him an almost unrivalled work rate off the ball. "I'm one of the best players in the world, so having the opportunity to win everything - and losing only occasionally - is what drives me," he told Four Four Two magazine earlier this year. "I'm ambitious. I want to win and won't stop until I score one, two or more goals."

Despite unfounded fears that a knee injury could scupper his hopes of making the Uruguay squad, he heads to Brazil in the form of his life.

His World Cup qualifying goals, 11 in 16 matches, helped book Uruguay's spot at the finals, while at club side Liverpool, his haul of 31 league strikes was the fuel for an unexpected title challenge that only fell away in the final weeks.

Suarez finished the season with a share of the European Golden Boot and was named Footballer of the Year by the Professional Footballers' Association and the Football Writers' Association.

Individual accolades counted for little, however, as the ultra-competitive schemer was reduced to a tearful wreck as he trudged disconsolately off the pitch after a calamitous 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace hit Liverpool's title hopes.

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