Luis Suarez will return from injury tonight to face England as the Uruguayan looks to upset his Liverpool teammates and cause havoc to an England defence he knows only too well. Before the World Cup adidas Football spoke to their man about facing England, the rivalry with Brazil and a top season at Anfield.
You’ve had an incredible season at Liverpool, how does it feel to come off the back of that and into a World Cup?
It has been my best season yet. I feel in great shape, physically and mentally, and have been really enjoying life at Liverpool. The club has done so well this year, and obviously I’ve been getting a lot of goals, which is very enjoyable. I just want to keep it going and roll straight into the World Cup with Uruguay, keep the wins coming and hopefully do my country proud out there. Success in Brazil would just cap the best season ever. I’m very lucky and I want to appreciate that, give thanks for it.
What has changed at Liverpool to make things so much better this year?
Nothing in particular, but Brendan Rogers’ planning has come together after more of a transitional year last year. On the pitch, it feels the same, we just went about aiming for the very top this year, and we did really well.
The English will be focusing heavily on you individually before the Uruguay-England game…
Yes, and that will be strange. I have so many friends in England, and in the England team, but on that day we need to put that to one side and try to beat each other. The England captain Steven Gerrard has been incredible for me. I speak to him all the time, he is a humble person and he has helped me so much. He has said some very nice things about me, and so I return those feelings. He is a great player and a great man, and the other Liverpool lads are all fantastic too. I want to see them do well. But not against Uruguay. That day, they’re the enemy.
No doubt the other Uruguayans will be asking you all about the opposition players you know so well.
They definitely will. Maybe I should give a team talk as well as our manager Oscar Tabarez! There are not so many Uruguayans playing in England, although our captain Diego Lugano is at West Brom and there is Gaston Ramirez at Southampton, so we will get asked about a lot of the English players. Although the Premier League is watched all over the world, so a lot is known about them, anyway.
You will also face Italy, who have quite the reputation in World Cups, having won it so many times…
That is a very big game. Again, we have several boys in our squad who play out in Italy – Martin Caceres at Juventus, Diego Perez at Bologna, Walter Gargano at Parma, Alvaro Gonzalez at Lazio, Abel Hernandez at Palermo – so the Italians know a lot about us, and we know a lot about them. They are a very solid team, they have won the World Cup four times, they have Pirlo, Balotelli… they are serious contenders.
Brazil have only hosted the World Cup once before in 1950, and Uruguay won it. Does that spur you on?
The team that won that game are a huge part of Uruguayan history. Every girl and boy in the country, every person knows about that team, that win. It is huge for us – and it is very painful for Brazil. If we were to play against them in this tournament, I am sure that the pressure on them would be immense, because of how painful that game was – even more than 60 years on.
There is a big Brazil-Uruguay rivalry, right?
Yes, it still exists. We will be playing on ‘away’ turf. It will be interesting to see how the crowds react, but we are hoping that a lot of fans will travel from Uruguay to watch us play – just like they did in 1950. To repeat something like that would be incredible, because it hurts Uruguayans that it has been such a lot time since we did well in a World Cup. People forget what a small country Uruguay is. We have just three million people, so to have a football team that performs so well is something that we are very, very proud of.
How do you reflect on making it to the semi finals of the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa?
It was incredible for us, for Uruguay, for the whole country. It was so exciting and we got an impression of how much it meant to everyone back home. I can only imagine how it would have been if we’d made it to the final. The game against Netherlands was very exciting, even though I didn’t play in it. When Diego Forlan equalised against them, we started to believe that we were off to a World Cup final. But Holland were very good on the day to win 3-2, and the goals by Sneijder and Robben knocked us out. We want to make it right and get to the final this time round.
Suarez was talking to adidas as part of their #allin or nothing campaign. Do you think he'll return from injury to haunt England tonight? Let us know.