What does comes to our mind when we say Luis Suarez? An Uruguayan Lethal Striker, loved by many and equally hated by others, and definitely one of the greatest strikers ever to grace Europe and Latin America. So famous he has become that most of us have forgotten that there was his namesake who ruled world football in the 1960’s and was the fulcrum of one of the greatest ever sides to grace Europe , was the first Barcelona as well as Spanish Player to win the Ballon d’Or , and most importantly was the first player to define what truly was a deep lying playmaker in football. He defined the now famous regista role in Italian football and was the predecessor of the pivot or holding midfielder of the modern football. Until the arrival of Sergio Buesqets, he was arguably the greatest DLP/Holding Mid to play for Spain and Barcelona and definitely one of the greatest DLP to grace football.
Suarez came in the era where football was being defined and redefined by a plethora of world class footballers, some of them were all time greats. Hidegkuti was defining the role which is predecessor to the famous False 9 of modern football for Hungary, Alfredo De Stefano and Puskas were ruling Europe donning the white shirts of Real Madrid, Vava was defining the quintessential brazilian flair midfielder and soon was joined by a certain dribbling winger called Garrincha and the first all action forward , a certain man named Pele. It was an era where football was being defined and hence the 50’s and 60’s can definitely be called the era which defined football in upcoming decades. Amidst all such geniuses and tactical/footballing revolutions, Suarez paired with the genius of Kubala , was shaping Barcelona football who frankly were under the shadows of their White rivals. Suarez was playing as an inside forward for Barcelona and won two la liga as well as reached an European Cup final which they lost to Benifica. Barca were managed by Helenio Herrera, who would later redefine Italian as well as European football with Luis Suarez being his main weapon. Luis Suarez won his Ballon d’Or playing for Barcelona,but his most dominant phase was definitely donning the jersey of Inter .
When Herrera left Barca and went to Inter , he brought Suarez to Inter making him the world’s most expensive transfer at that time. Herrera then formed one of the greatest European Sides ever, ” Grande Inter”, who swept all in front of them. Herrera introduced the dreaded “catenaccio” or the “door bolt” system with Luis Suarez being its fulcrum. So dominant were Inter and so dreaded and legendary was “catenaccio” , that even after 60 years of Herrera and Grande Inter, still today Italian football is defined by the same style, with managers like Capello,Lippi, Mourinho, Conte etc being the followers of the “Herrera Style” of football. But neither “Catenaccio” , nor “Grande Inter”, would have been possible without its most grand player,Luis Suarez. For his style to succeed, Herrera needed a player who had it all in those times, reading of the game, passing ability, vision, technique and shooting. Luis Suarez was the complete package, he initially played in the inside forward role, but then Herrera dropped him deep to give a cushion to his central defenders, but at the same time providing his fullbacks and centre forwards with ammunition to attack. Inter’s style was based on grit and speed, suarez was the silk in that system. He was the instigator of the buildup play, he maintained the fluidity of their attack, he provided pinpoint passes to the channels as well as to the forwards, he was the brain, the engine, the artist, all combined in one. Thus he was the first modern Deep lying playmaker/Regista. Infact so influential and terrific he was, that all the other teams who tried to copy Inter’s style failed, simply because they did not had Luis Suarez. In those days when both footballs and boots were made of heavy leather and most of the playing fields were mud baths, Suarez’s silky touch even in those conditions were a thing of wonder , both to his team mates and opposition players as well as the spectators.
More than half a century has passed since the domination of Grande Inter and Luis Suarez.But their impact on modern game is undeniable and the wonderful and legendary registas/DLps/Holding Mids/pivots we have seen and continue watch gracing football field, all are actually taking forward the legacy of the great Luis Suarez.