Luis Suarez, former Barcelona and Inter Milan and the first and only male Spanish player to win the Ballon D’Or, passed away at the age of 88 on Sunday.
This has been confirmed by Inter, where he spent much of his career.
Affectionately known as ‘Luisito’, he is considered one of the best players in Spanish football history, and he played a key role for Barça during the second half of the 1950s.
He joined FC Barcelona from Deportivo La Coruña, his debut for the Club coming on May 2 1954, his 19th birthday
Suárez was a left-sided central midfielder with the full package of football skills, including superb technique, expert ball manipulation, an outstanding reading of the game, and a fantastic shot.
However, he mainly stood out for the elegant way he played the game. Barça’s coach at the time, Helenio Herrera (1958-60), owes a significant part of his achievements to the exploits of the Galician midfielder, nicknamed ‘The Architect’.
His 253 games for Barça saw him score 141 goals, winning two Liga titles (1958/59 and 1959/60), two Spanish Cups (1956/57 and 1958/59), two Fairs Cups (1957/58 and 1959/60), and the Ballon D’Or (1960).
In 1961, and not long after winning the prestigious individual award, the Club’s financial difficulties led to his transfer to Inter Milan for 25 million Spanish pesetas.
His spell at the Italian side was very fruitful, winning two European Cups, among other trophies.
No other Spanish player had shone so brightly when playing abroad, apart from the nationalised Alfredo Di Stéfano.
He joined Sampdoria in 1970, going on to retire three years later. He played his final game for the Spanish national side – a goalless draw against Greece – on April 12 1972, aged almost 37 years old.
Suárez earned 32 caps between 1957 and 1972, which included winning the European Cup with Spain in 1964.
He coached the national side at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, before later joining the Inter Milan coaching staff.
“Goodbye Luisito,” wrote Sampdoria on Twitter, posting a photo of the Spaniard in tribute.
In 1988 he took over as coach of the Spanish national team, guiding them to the World Cup in Italy two years later, where they were beaten by Yugoslavia in the last 16.
“From the RFEF we want to convey our condolences to all relatives and close friends of Luis Suarez Miramontes,” wrote the Spanish football federation on Twitter.
Suarez worked on Spanish radio in his later years as a commentator.
He was the namesake of, but no relation to Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, who also played for Barcelona.