Ronald closed the door to Barcelona for the Uruguayan. But many years before his dad had a lot to do with the start of his career in Europe.
These are sad days for Luis Suárez, a race scorer used to receiving very hard blows and then rebuilding himself, thanks to his ability as a natural competitor. His farewell to Barcelona, before leaving for Diego Simeone’s Atlético de Madrid, showed him with tears for the closure of a link that lasted six seasons and which the club put an end to with a cold call by cell phone. The one in charge of showing him the exit door was the new coach, Ronald Koeman. The same one that most likely saw its first steps in Europe just over 13 years ago, when Fought came to Groningen and began his strange relationship with the Koeman family.
As is increasingly the case with South American players, the Uruguayan had to start being a true reference for his country’s football based on what he did in Europe. He lasted very little in Nacional de Montevideo, where after becoming champion in 2006 he left for the Netherlands in a transfer for one million dollars. He was just 19 years old.
His first destination was Groningen, the same club in which Ronald Koeman debuted in 1980 at the beginning of his great career (which included the 1988 Eurocup title with his National Team and the first Champions League title with Barcelona, in 1992) . But the link with the Koemans does not end there far from it, because the one who took his eye and recommended his incorporation for the club in a white and green shirt was none other than Martin Koeman, the football patriarch of the family.
Martin, who had played for Groningen between 1963 and 1973, remained linked to the club even until the days of his death at the age of 75, in 2013, when he was still working as a scout for young talents. Like the case of that Suarez who was beginning to be the Gunman.
Those of 2007 were difficult days in the career of Suárez, who was in poor shape and even overweight. There were moments when his mentor came to doubt whether they had been successful with the incorporation.
Luis being uprooted was taking its toll, and almost all of his problems were solved when he managed to take Luis to live with him. Sofia Balbi, his girlfriend then and today his wife, who was with her parents in Spain. From that moment on, Suárez’s career got back on track and it didn’t take him long to move on to Ajax, which was the platform to arrive first at Liverpool and later at Barcelona, where he was one of Lionel Messi’s best partners.
The painful 2-8 against Bayern Munich in Lisbon made it clear that Barcelona was a time for renewal, as many of the squad admitted.
It was of little use to Suárez having scored one of the two goals in that debacle: he was one of the first victims of Koeman’s broom, who arrived determined to head a renovation project. Ronald cared little – if he remembered it – that little-known antecedent that linked him to his family. Time wanted him to cut the wings of the same scorer that his father helped to start flying.