Luis Suarez has hailed Steven Gerrard's influence in his decision to stay at Anfield last summer and admitted how being handed the captain’s armband has ‘validated’ him at Liverpool.
Last season ended in controversy for the Uruguayan, hit with a 10-match suspension for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in April.
Suarez, making no secret of his desire to play Champions League football and courted by Arsenal, appeared destined to move on from Merseyside.
Being Liverpool captain is something that validates you, makes you feel appreciated
But Liverpool insisted the 27-year-old was going nowhere and have been rewarded for their determination to keep the star attraction at Anfield. Suarez has netted 23 goals in 26 games as part of an electric attack that has scored more Premier League goals than anyone else in 2013/14.
And his remarkable rehabilitation was completed in December, as the former Ajax talisman signed a new long-term contract with the club a week after captaining the Reds against Spurs; something he admits he could never have envisaged.
Speaking exclusively in the April 2014 issue of FourFourTwo, Suarez says: “It was weird – strange. I’d never imagined myself as Liverpool skipper. After everything that had happened with me, to retain the support of the club, the coach and my team-mates showed me they were happy to forget and forgive.
He said I was the best forward he’d ever played with, which was amazing for me to hear. I’ll never forget that
“It proved that my commitment to the club and to my team-mates is genuine and that I’m giving the maximum. Everyone here lives to help the club. Being Liverpool captain is something that validates you and makes you feel appreciated because there have been some fantastic leaders here.”
Suarez was quick to pay tribute to his captain Steven Gerrard who, Suarez reveals, “played a massive part in convincing me to stay in the summer” when speculation was rife linking the Uruguayan with moves to Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid.
“He didn’t talk about me, or through me, in the press, but in person. In those moments I forgot that he was ‘world football great Gerrard’, a Liverpool legend, but as a humble person who spoke to me with all his heart for hours,” says Suarez.
“He said I was the best forward he’d ever played with, which given the amazing strikers that he’s played with at Liverpool, was amazing for me to hear. I’ll never forget that.”
Read the action-packed interview with Luis Suarez in the April 2014 issue of FourFourTwo, available in print and on iPad from Wednesday March 5. The Liverpool icon talks candidly about his lethal partnership with Daniel Sturridge, accusations of simulation and his controversies involving Ivanovic and Patrice Evra. Do not miss it.