Luis Suarez turns 36 next week, but the legendary striker is showing no signs of slowing down if his debut hat trick for Gremio is anything to go by.
We last saw Suarez weeping uncontrollably as Uruguay were knocked out of the World Cup in the group stages.
Despite a frantic period of injury time as Uruguay tried to save themselves, the camera crew knew exactly what the watching world wanted and kept cutting to the striker desperately attempting to hide his face and his anguish.
He failed. Billions wept alongside Suarez, albeit with tears of mirth that were lacking any sympathy for one of the biggest villains in World Cup history.
Fast forward six weeks, as the Northern Hemisphere shivers during bleak mid-winter, the former Liverpool and Barcelona man has combined his two main talents; goalscoring and making himself centre of attention.
Apart from taking a chunk out of an opponent’s arm, is there a more Suarez way to make an introduction to his new club by scoring a 38-minute triple? We’re struggling to think of an alternative.
The three goals showcased all the qualities that made the Uruguayan one of the world’s leading strikers during the 2010s. The first, a deft lob after creating space for himself, showed a poacher’s instinct that’d make Fantastic Mr Fox blush.
By comparison, his second was almost routine; a smart finish underneath the despairing Sao Luiz goalkeeper. That’s until you clock how Suarez sat his temporary enemy down before slotting the ball home, leaving fans inside the stadium desperately looking to cool themselves down.
His hat trick was completed by a shot hit hard enough to create a hole in the outer layer of a medieval fortress. Well done, Luis.
A hat-trick on his Gremio debut for 35-year-old Luis Suarez… 🎩 pic.twitter.com/Zy4JiTZVmQ
— Nathan Joyes (@NathanJoyes1) January 18, 2023
Asked whether joining Gremio represented his biggest challenge, admittedly before scoring three on his debut, Suarez told the club’s media channels: “It could be, but I can also compare it with my time at Atletico Madrid.
“I won the league with Atletico when Real Madrid and Barcelona dominated football in Spain.
“This one might be even more difficult, but I am convinced we have an incredible team and a coach that does things well and that has a great influence.
“I am not the Luis Suarez of 2015, 2016 or 2013. I am not. I am not stupid. I am not going to run 50 metres, because I am not that player anymore.
“But maybe with my movement 50 metres from goal, my team-mates can benefit, because it is a team game. What I am going to promise is compromise, comradery, attitude, hunger and goals.”
You can say that again; Suarez was never blessed with world-class pace, but his instinct for goal-scoring is the very quality that could aid the longevity of his career.
“It couldn’t have been better his debut. The fans believe in him, so are we,” Gremio coach Renato said about his new signing. “He showed what he came for.
“He quickly made it into the group because he’s a very humble person. He doesn’t want the highlights or perks, he just want to be like everyone else.”
Suarez has made a living out of being unlike everyone else, but when you score a hat-trick of this quality, quibbling details such as those become irrelevant.
By Michael Lee