Last Sunday, Montevideo caught fire to celebrate the emotional return of Luis Suárez to Nacional, the club of his debut. As a welcome, Argentine striker Emmanuel Gigliotti offered his number 9 to a tearful gunman. Two days later, they shared a few minutes together on the pitch during the defeat (0-1) against the Brazilians Goianiense in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana quarterfinals. Nicknamed “el Puma”, the former striker for Boca Juniors and Independiente recounts the madness that has taken over the Uruguayan capital and analyzes the local football involved in preparing “Lucho” for his last World Cup.
Interview with Georges Quirino Chaves
It was a revolution. The previous weeks, he was already completely crazy. When Luis announced that Nacional had not contacted him and the president said that he was going to call him, our team began to be watched around the world. It was unimaginable to see a player of the stature of Luis come to Nacional. In South America, if you take away from Brazil its level of competitiveness and its economic power capable of attracting guys like Vidal, David Luiz and Felipe Luis, it is rare to see players of this caliber in Argentina or Uruguay. Imagine the delirium in a small country like that to see a striker return who played in the best Barça in history. We’re talking about a guy who’s in the top three or five No. 9s in the last fifteen years.
The video that moved @Luissuarez9 there are all those present yesterday in the Great Central Park. Congratulations on having you home, Luis! ??❤️#TheGiantClub#SuárezEnNacional pic.twitter.com/pL1ejeKU6G
– National (@National) August 1, 2022
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It must be something new in world football. They talked about it all the time. The worst thing is that he convinced him to come!”
Honestly… Did you believe it when it came?
With the other players in the squad, we had hope, but we didn’t really believe in it. Like everyone in reality. I have many friends who would not stop texting me for information. A week before, Luis had said no to River Plate, which had just been eliminated from the Copa Libertadores. We are talking about a great club on the continent trained by a respected coach like Gallardo. We did not imagine that he was going to come after this refusal. But when we started to see the incredible mobilization of Nacional supporters on social media, we started to believe it. I had never seen such a thing. It must be a first in world football. They talked about it all the time. The worst thing is that he convinced him to come!
When the transfer was formalized, how did you react to each other?
Apart from the goalkeeper Sergio Rochet who plays with Luis in the national team, none of us had ever been in a team with a player of that level. We were all anxious. There was a lot of excitement and excitement, especially for the kids in the club. For all of us, sharing a dressing room or being on the pitch with him is something incredible. You look at it all the time. What does he do? What doesn’t he do? What is he saying? What doesn’t he say? What are we going to tell him?! Nobody wants to make a fool of themselves in front of Luis (Laughter). What we live is very strong.
“It’s an honor for me. I gave him the shirt at the presentation at the stadium in front of 25,000 spectators. I’ve never spoken in front of so many people!”
Great sir, you gave him your number 9… Seriously, did you have a choice?
No one had asked me anything at the club. It seemed natural to me to give my number to Luis. When we found out that he was coming, I went to see the stewards to ask them:Boys ! Is there another number available for me? 9 is for Luis» . The president thanked me. For me it is an honor. I gave him the shirt at the presentation in the stadium before 25,000 spectators. I had nothing prepared but Sebastián “El Loco” Abreu, the presenter of the event, asked me to say a few words. He had never spoken in front of so many people! People were very excited in the stands. For them, Luis is like watching Mick Jagger. He also comes at a time when the team is playing well. Even if we lose the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana quarterfinals on Tuesday, we can qualify for the second leg next week. It has been more than thirty years since a Uruguayan club won a continental trophy. We will do everything we can to get there. With Luis we will win in quality. I hope we can take advantage of it.
From a giant 9️⃣ to another giant 9️⃣ ????Emmanuel Gigliotti handed him the number 9 shirt @LuisSuarez9 and he dedicated a few words to his new partner and to The First Fan of the World ??? #SuárezEnNacional #TheGiantClub ?⚪️?@anteldetodos pic.twitter.com/yuez1j32xp
– National (@National) July 31, 2022
You shared a few minutes with him on the pitch in that first leg against Atlético Clube Goianiense (0-1). It was short, but how was it?
We were losing, so the game took me completely. I didn’t realize right away. When I got home, I got tons of messages from friends: “Do you realize that you played with Suarez?” Where “Dude, you did a one-two with Lucho!» . There you come back down to earth and you say to yourself: “Ok, this is crazy”. We have to take advantage and learn as much as possible by his side. Either the twenty-year-old boy or me the same age as Luis. Does not matter. We’ve only trained together once so far. On the field we have already seen in certain touches of the ball, certain movements that he was a different player. Now he is the one who will have to get used to the fact that we are not footballers he normally plays with! (Laughter).
? the party of @LuisSuarez9 on his historic return to @National!? He played 1⃣6⃣ minutes⚪ Did he touch 1⃣3⃣ with the ball? He gave 7⃣ passes, 6⃣ of them good? CONMEBOL #southamerican pic.twitter.com/RPplpt47IU6
– South American CONMEBOL (@Sudamericana) August 3, 2022
“In these conditions, players like Valverde, Cavani, Suárez, Núñez have managed to emerge. What will happen in the future when there are better infrastructures?”
What is the Uruguayan championship worth?
Here it sounds a bit like ten years ago in Argentina. I’m talking about before the arrival of coaches like Ricardo Gareca or Tata Martino who convinced us that we could play differently and not just with a game of warriors. Here it is still a football where there is a lot of friction. There is a lot of pressure like in Argentine football. The fields are not ideal and I am not referring to the training centers. When you want to improve the way you play, it’s problematic. But when you see the raw material that is here, you tell yourself that this country is far from giving everything it can. In these conditions, players like Valverde, Cavani, Suárez, Núñez managed to stand out. What will the future be like when there are better infrastructures? There is so much to do. They have 10% of the Argentine population but an impressive number of talented footballers.
How would you define the National club?
Followers are always active. They cheer you up as soon as you meet them on the street. When you see what they did for Luis’s arrival, he gives you an idea. It’s a big club. For me, it is one of the largest in the continent. The institution has been world champion three times in its history. We must recover the past glory. It takes time, but I think we have leaders who can support this progress.
In your career you have played great classics like Boca Juniors – River Plate or Independiente – Racing. The rivalry between Nacional and Peñarol, where do you place it?
The country is very small. Everything is so close that the rivalry is lived at a level of madness like the one that can be had in a classic of Rosario in Argentina between Central and Newell’s Old Boys. Practically half of Uruguay is from Peñarol and the other half from Nacional. People and especially players remain fans of their club over time. When the championship starts, the two institutions look above all at the date of the classic. The next one is at the end of the month. When you meet fans on the street, they don’t tell you they want to be champions. They repeat to you:Win the classic!» . She is crazy beautiful.
“Here he is at home. It feels good. For me the emotional dimension and all the psychological ones are the most important. The World Cup is in a few months. If there were two years left it would be different”.
We are still wondering if Suárez will be able to prepare for his last World Cup playing in Uruguay. What do you think about that ?
I think players of his caliber, who have played in several World Cups and have played for big clubs, do most of their preparation in training. These are guys who have impeccable lifestyles off the court. Luis recently had to treat his knee. He will gradually recover all of his abilities. Here it is at home. He feels fine. For me, the emotional dimension and all the psychological is the most important. The World Cup is in a few months. If there were two years left, it would be different.
If not… Is Lucho nice?
I had never seen it in my life. Our first time will be forever in a stadium with a microphone in front of 25,000 people and everyone watching. It was unusual and incredible. I hope everyone saw how confident I was with my speech (Laughter). Actually, Luis is great. I hope he inspires other great South American players to come back here.
Interview with Georges Quirino Chaves
#Gigliotti #Suárez #cest #Mick #Jagger #Uruguay