In my time following Liverpool there is one man, Eric Cantona, a foreign player in the English game, who similarly garnered so much hatred of fans like Luis Suarez. Particularly where Leeds United Football Club is concerned whom Eric left for Manchester United in 1992. As with Luis Suarez, Cantona had a gift to entertain and perform spectacular pieces of skill on the pitch. The magnificence of his football brain would get United fans off their feet and have the opposition cursing him.
Cantona’s brilliance on the pitch wasn’t the primary focus for the best part of 9 months in 1995 while he served a ban for kung-fu kicking a Crystal Palace supporter having been sent off in a fixture at Selhurst Park. This had an impact on the title race with Blackburn Rovers, who ended their long wait for a top flight title. The chances United created against West Ham on that last day of the season, I think a lot of supporters of Manchester United cursed their luck, pointing to the fact that their talisman was banned.
Similarly to Eric, Luis Suarez has endured well over 12 months of focus. Be it the racial incident with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra or the diving, which at times has being justified. However, like Cantona in 1995, redemption among the media cohorts is nearing for the magical Uruguayan. The 1995/96 season proved to be Cantona’s season in English football, the media who castigated his antics early in 1995 when the incident occurred were less than 18 months later toasting the man who carried Manchester United to their second League and Cup double in three seasons. Comparing Luis Suarez on this account wouldn’t be fair as the Liverpool side he plays in are not the well oiled machine of the United ’96 vintage.
Instead his 2012/13 season could be one where the man everyone loves to hate much like Eric Cantona can be appreciated for his brilliance and, people marvel at his abilities as a footballer while looking beyond what has gone before. His return of 10 goals in 12 League games, plus two assists, attests to his form, and let’s not forget the tally he recorded before his move from Ajax to Anfield. Who knows what the next six or so months will bring, but finally Suarez is getting some of the plaudits as a footballer he deserves, just like Cantona did after his brush with controversy.
I was one of those people in 1995 in regards to Eric Cantona, at 11 going on 12 years of age you don’t appreciate seeing players at their zenith. As you get older, you appreciate the quality of the player despite your allegiances. Hopefully like me when you read this you can look beyond these trappings and appreciate the man you love to hate as a world class player that English football should be privileged to have plying his trade.