A grudging respect for Suarez

FOX Sports' Marcus Chhan learns to forgive Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.

Liverpool are back in the game thanks to him.
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

I do not like Luis Suarez.

It's easy for me to say that because there is so much not to like about him. Everything from that distasteful incident with Patrice Evra where he was found guilty of racially abusing the Manchester United left-back; then his refusal to accept that in some cultures the word he used is considered offensive and the fact that he left Kenny Dalglish high-and-dry by refusing to shake Evra's hand when Liverpool played United much later on in the season.

Even on the football pitch, the more I found out about Suarez the less appealing he became to me. First, there was that incident when as Ajax captain he bit an opponent; and then of course there is his habit of going down far too easily – sometimes when there isn't even any contact – in an effort to con the referee.

I was left with such a bad opinion about Suarez that since the start of this season I have refused to even buy the player for my fantasy football team.

But here's the thing. I am starting to warm towards Suarez.

Something has changed - and it has got nothing to do with me.

We are more than halfway through the current Barclays Premier League season, I suddenly find that there is now plenty to like about the Uruguayan. Everything from his stunning hat-trick in Liverpool's 5-2 demolition of Norwich in September last year; then that fabulous goal he scored against Newcastle in November where he – at full speed – controlled a long ball from Jose Enrique with his shoulder and chest before dribbling around the advancing goalkeeper Tim Krul; and how he has become an incredible team player for the Reds this season.

But where Suarez has really made a difference has been off the pitch where he comes across as having a genuine affection for the Anfield outfit. It's a refreshing loyalty that is rare in modern day football. 

Of course, a Real Madrid or a Manchester City might come knocking in the summer and we know that the modern-day footballer is more Nicolas Anelka than Paul Scholes. 

But that bridge will be crossed when we, or rather, Suarez comes to it.  Right now, it is admirable to see a foreign player arrive at a club and completely immerse himself into the new culture instead of complaining about being home sick.

"I'm very happy here and my family love the life here too," Suarez said in a recent interview published in the UK.

"I want to enjoy being at this club where I, like all the kids, dreamed of playing and now I'm fulfilling that dream." 

He also admitted that hearing fans sing Liverpool's famous 'You'll Never Walk Alone' anthem still fills him with emotion.

"It's something I'm used to now but somehow it continues to surprise me," he said.

"When I hear it on the pitch or even in the dressing room it still gives me goosebumps. 

"It is incredible and even more so in the stadium when the people become emotional and show their passion. 

"The world stops and everyone sings with their scarves up and it's such a feeling and such a motivation to play for this club."

If Suarez does end up staying at Anfield for years to come – even if the club fail in their bid to return to the UEFA Champions League – then my opinion of him will continue to grow.

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