FIFA World Cup: Would be incredible to repeat 1950 triumph, says Suarez
Liverpool's striker who starred for Uruguay in the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil looks to repeat the 1950 feat as it has been a very long time since the team has fared well in the World Cup
Q. You've had an incredible season at Liverpool, how does it feel to come off the back of that and into a World Cup?
A. 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. Success in Brazil would just cap the best season ever. I'm very lucky and I want to appreciate that.
Uruguay's striker Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring against England at Sao Paulo on Thursday. Pic/AFP
Q. What has changed at Liverpool to make things so much better this year?
A. 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.
Q. You will also face Italy, who have quite the reputation in World Cups, having won it so many times…
A. That is a very big game. Again, we have several boys in our squad who play 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 (Andrea) Pirlo, (Mario) Balotelli… they are serious contenders.
Q. Brazil have only hosted the World Cup once before in 1950, and Uruguay won it. Does that spur you on?
A. 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.
Q. There is a big Brazil-Uruguay rivalry, right?
A. 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 long 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.
Q. How do you reflect on making it to the semi finals of the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa?
A. 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.
Q. You are a side that is getting a little older, on average. How strong is the squad compared to four years ago?
A. It is true that we are a team that is getting a little bit older, but we have a lot of experience in the side because of that, and sometimes that is a benefit. Our defence, with Lugano, Maxi Pereira, Diego Godin, Martin Carecas, Jorge Fucile, they all have over 40 caps, some nearly 100 caps. Our midfield is very experienced, and then you have Diego Forlan with over 100 caps, Edison Cavani with over 60. We are a strong unit, we know each other well, this is our strength, but there are young players coming through too, and they give us energy and keep us on our toes.
Q. How do you relax during a tournament?
A. It is good to just chat with the rest of the squad, to swim, play games, listen to music, take your mind of the football. It will be nice to be in South America, with family and friends nearer by than they are in Europe. I will speak to my family and my children a lot. They remind me that there is life outside of football and keep me humble.
Q. Have you thought about winning the Golden Boot?
A. I got a lot of goals for Liverpool this season and I must say I am confident. I feel like if you put a chance in front of me, I will score it at the moment. That's a great frame of mind to be in. I'm 27, I'm at my peak, so this might be my best chance to really shine on the world stage, in the World Cup. I think I have become more intelligent as a football player and have learned from the errors I've made on the pitch in the past when I've played not so well. I am more mature. I've got to take advantage of my form and help Uruguay as much as I can.
Q. You score a lot of spectacular goals, will you be aiming to add a Maradona-style wonder goal at the World Cup?
A. I would not complain if that happens. I like to run at people, to beat people, so if I can do it in Brazil and score, great. It's not like I try to score the most difficult goals possible, I am more than happy to score an easy chance. The most important thing at this level is to take opportunities when you get them. That's vital.
Q. Does the tournament being in South America give you an advantage over European sides?
A. Maybe. If you look back, all the World Cups that have been played in South America have been won by a South American side. Brazil have got home advantage but it will also give us a bit of an edge too, I think. People talk about the heat in England, and the English aren't as used to the heat as we are, but that won't be a problem for the Spanish players, the Italians and so on. So I don't think it is the climate that is fully the reason – it is just that home soil, home advantage factor. When you are comfortable somewhere you are more likely to succeed.