Suarez is Uruguay's saviour
Back from notoriety, back from injury, Uruguayan is ready to take this World Cup by storm
ITALY v URUGUAY
(Tonight, 11.59pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 142 & StarHub TV Ch 224)
He was helpless on a hospital bed. Limp and in pain, he had his left knee punctured.
Ye of little faith, did you give him up for dead, too?
Just 28 days later, Luis Suarez was miraculously resurrected. First, he rose majestically to head in a 39th-minute opener against England, before seeking out Walter Ferreira, embracing him and signalling to the crowd to appreciate his importance.
"I cried a lot with him because it was such a hard time and it was complicated because of what he was living through as well. He made a sacrifice to remain with me the whole time," Suarez said of the 62-year-old physiotherapist, who completed his last chemotherapy treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma just a week before the match.
Then, like turning water to wine, Suarez transformed one point into three with a thumping 85th-minute winner.
Without Suarez against Costa Rica, Uruguay were like sheep without their shepherd, and duly lost 3-1.
Against England, the 27-year-old was their saviour.
And in tonight's must-win match against Italy, La Celeste will be praying for another big performance from their anointed one.
At the last World Cup, he was the devil as far as Africa was concerned after his illegal 120th-minute "Hand of God" block on the goal-line denied Ghana a place in the semi-finals.
In 2011, he racially abused Patrice Evra, earning an eight-match suspension, before refusing to shake the Frenchman's hand the following February.
Last year, he bit Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic and was suspended for 10 games.
Few would have prophesied this when he was at his lowest ebb, but 2014 has been a remarkable year of redemption for Suarez, so much so he is now courted by Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
His double against England made it a record 41 international goals for Uruguay in 78 appearances.
In that match, he had four attempts at goal. Two were on target and they beat Joe Hart.
Not fully fit, he still displayed a great turn of pace, innate positioning sense and tremendous balance.
Suarez said: "People say to me: 'How can you run so much, how can you suffer so much, how can a defeat hurt you so much'?
"Because there is so much effort and sacrifice behind it. And the pressure is greater than people realise.
"It makes you do things that you never imagined: eat more, eat less, act differently.
"Coaches have told me I can help the team much more if I don't talk, if I don't moan. So I reflected on that. I remember a game against Argentina too when he (Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez) said to me: 'Luis, either you calm down or I take you off'.
"I could not carry on playing so crazily. In the second half, I focused better, I scored, I played better. Coaches who are intelligent see that. They warn you and that helps. Advice coming from the right people is always welcome."
It's not just his form that's been revived.
His reputation has also been restored with generous gestures such as the one with Ferreira, or the story of him playing with seven-year-old Ethan Mullin, and allowing the boy who has Down's Syndrome to nutmeg him.
In South Africa, that devious handball helped Uruguay reach the semi-finals, but at the cost of Suarez's suspension.
After four years in football purgatory, he is ready for redemption.