'The flame is dying out' says Uruguay's Suarez as retirement draws near

rugby06 July 2024 06:40| © Reuters
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Uruguay striker Luis Suarez © Getty Images

Uruguay striker Luis Suarez knows he is inching closer to retirement, but the veteran player is hoping to enjoy the final stretch of a stellar career, no matter how many minutes he gets on the pitch at the Copa America.

Suarez is Uruguay's all-time top scorer with 68 international goals and although the 37-year-old has only come on as a late substitute in two games at the Copa America - totalling eight minutes so far - he is not one to complain.

"I'm enjoying every moment very much. It is something that at my age, as you get older, you enjoy it more and more whether you're playing a lot or playing a little, because you know that the flame of football is dying out," Suarez told AUF TV.

"I'm just one more (player in the squad), you've already seen it. Playing or not playing, I'm happy with the part I'm doing and trying to help as much as I can."

Once one of the most-feared strikers in Europe, Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone had described a crucial period in the 2020-21 title race as entering the "Luis Suarez zone", when the striker's experience guided them to their last league title.

But with Uruguay set to face Brazil in Saturday's high-octane quarterfinal, Suarez is placing his confidence in the young players coming through the ranks to get the job done.

"I hope it (the zone) doesn't appear in this Copa because that would mean that Uruguay is doing well and that it's not necessary. If it's needed, we'll be there because we hope to write another chapter in the national team," he said.

"This group gave a very big blow in the World Cup qualifiers by beating Brazil and Argentina. They earned that power on the pitch by showing that they can beat anyone... The time has come to prove it and it's a great test for us."

Suarez has also been mentoring 25-year-old striker Darwin Nunez, who followed in his footsteps by signing for Premier League side Liverpool and has scored twice in the tournament.

"I try to help as much as I can, I was in Darwin's place, I was Darwin's age," Suarez said.

"El 'Loco' (Sebastian Abreu) was the first to support me and today, being in that place, you have to be a motivation for him."