Luis Suarez: No other Liverpool player 'comes close' to the Uruguayan striker, says Steven Gerrard
The Liverpool striker won numerous awards this season, including the Golden Boot
Friday 16 May 2014
Luis Suarez is by some distance the best player Steven Gerrard has played with at Liverpool and one who the England captain believes has shown his true character this season.
Few expected to see the Uruguayan don the red shirt again after a summer of speculation, controversy and frustration, yet the 27-year-old was persuaded to stay at Anfield and the rewards reaped by all parties have been spectacular.
Putting the negative headlines behind him, Suarez netted a remarkable 31 goals as the Reds came within touching distance of a first top-flight title in 24 years.
That form saw him sweep up at the end-of-season awards, including the Football Writers' Footballer of the Year award which was collected on his behalf by manager Brendan Rodgers on Thursday.
Liverpool captain Gerrard believes that award is particularly special as it highlights Suarez's "huge turnaround", and is deserved recognition for the club's best player this millennium.
"I've been privileged to play alongside some great players during my years at Liverpool but nobody comes close to Luis," the Reds skipper said.
"He's not only the best, he's the best by some distance.
"We've all seen what he's done this season with his goals and his all-round brilliance and I think it's taken Luis on to a different level.
"Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two best players in the world and have been for the last four or five years, but Luis is tucked right in there behind them now."
Liverpool came agonisingly close to winning the title
This season has seen quite the turnaround from Suarez, who last year received just two votes in the FWA poll.
He has come full circle since serving a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, with his behaviour vastly-improved to that seen in previous seasons.
"People look at him and will still pick up on the controversy that he's been involved with over the last couple of years," Gerrard said in the awards programme.
"But I prefer to judge a person by how he responds to setbacks and the way Luis has responded has been magnificent.
"He was incredibly despondent last summer. He knew he'd let himself and the club down but, more importantly, he felt he'd let his family down."
Gerrard continued: "They mean so much to him that he didn't want his children growing up and reading about just the bad things he's done, he wanted them to see the positive side of their dad.
"As captain, I was there for him. We talked a fair few times and I tried to be as supportive as I possibly could.
"It doesn't matter what words you come up with, though, it's down to the lad himself to respond - and Luis has certainly done that.
"Yes, I think there were times in the summer when he wanted to leave Liverpool, that he thought he needed a change.
"One thing I'll say for this club is that they weren't just strong in standing by Luis, they also made him realise just how important he was to their plans this season."
Latest in Sport
Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Compare the Barcelona and Real Madrid players in El Clasico
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
Tim Sherwood: The mavericks have always needed special handling – but Balotelli is not delivering his side of the bargain for Liverpool
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Modesty of Louis van Gaal makes nice contrast with his old pupil Jose Mourinho
Real Madrid analysis: Toni Kroos control may give extra edge that enables Real Madrid to retain Champions League crown
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year