Luis Suarez banned after 2014 World Cup bite
Diego Forlan said striker knew he made mistake
Forlan said his prodigy found help to change his ways
Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez formed a formidable forward line for Uruguay for many years. But success didn’t come without controversy.
The pair, supplemented by Edinson Cavani, spearheaded Uruguay’s fairytale Copa America victory in 2011 – a trophy that Forlan treasures as his best career achievement.
But they were unable to replicate that form at the 2014 World Cup, a tournament which would eventually become a nightmare for Suarez, who bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s final group game, resulting in an unprecedented four-month ban from football.
The forward initially denied biting the Italian but quickly published an apology following his ban.
Forlan still remembers the effect the incident had on the young forward.
“You could see in that dressing room when he did that, you could see his face,” Forlan told CNN Sport. “You didn’t need to go there and talk to him because he knew he made a mistake.
“There was nothing we could do it that moment. It’s better, when you know him, to give him space to talk with his family and to talk with people he needs to talk to, whether that’s me, another player or a coach.”
’Really nice guy’
The outburst was globally condemned and proved yet another dent in Suarez’s campaign to improve his image.
He had previously been involved in two biting incidents and was charged with racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in 2011, serving an eight-match ban.
In the 2010 World Cup, Suarez also showed little guilt for purposely saving a goal-bound effort with his hand. An action which ended Ghana’s magical run at the quarter-final stage.
“I know him, he’s a really nice guy. Sometimes he used to react in a bad way,” said Forlan as he reflected on Suarez’s career.
“He spoke to the right professionals so he could change it and now he’s at a great club,” added Forlan of the change he’s seen in Suarez.
“Of course he made mistakes and he accepted it. I know what type of guy he is and I know he wanted to change it. I am really happy for him because he did it.”
Suarez admitted to seeing a therapist following the 2014 incident to help cure his “impulse” to bite people.
Since then, Suarez has seemingly overcome the problems that plagued the start of his career.
Now 31, the Uruguayan is still a focal point of a Barcelona team that has won three La Liga titles and one UEFA Champions League while he’s been at the Nou Camp.
He is also Uruguay’s all-time top goal scorer with 55 goals, 19 ahead of Forlan in third.
The now-retired forward is pleased to see his former prodigy achieve his potential for both club and country.
“I was 26 or 28 and he was just arriving in the international team,” said Forlan.
“He would come to my bedroom and we would talk about things on the TV and he would ask things about football.
“Before, when I was scoring goals, he was always sending me messages, congratulating me. Now it’s me doing the same thing to him. I’m really happy for him.”
Suarez will once again be leading Barcelona’s attack in their UEFA Champions League clash with Tottenham on Wednesday.
The Catalans will travel to Wembley looking for their second European victory this season, following their 4-0 win over PSV. Spurs were beaten 2-1 by Inter Milan in their opening group game.