Star striker Luis Suárez scored an emotional goal in his final home match for Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense on Sunday, propelling the club to a 1-0 win over rivals Vasco da Gama. The 36-year-old Uruguayan — known affectionately as “El Pistolero” — later suggested retirement could be on the horizon as he struggles with persistent knee issues.
“The pain I feel daily is too much,” Suárez told local media after the match. “My body is asking me to stop.”
Suárez revealed to Uruguayan radio station Sport 890 last week that he takes anti-inflammatory medication before every match just to take the pitch. The former FC Barcelona striker has been dealing with cartilage degradation in his right knee stemming from a January 2020 surgery.
“I have earned the right to decide when to say enough is enough,” he reiterated Sunday.
Suárez joined Grêmio last January amid much fanfare, inking a two-year contract worth a Brazilian record $3 million per season. His arrival came on the heels of the club’s shocking relegation from Brazil’s top-flight Campeonato Brasileiro Série A in 2021.
Heroic Season Culminates in Storybook Finale
The proud Porto Alegre side only spent one season in the second division, and Suárez was instrumental in securing their return to the Série A.
He dazzled the passionate Grêmio fan base all season long, racking up 21 goals across domestic and continental play. His heroics led the Tricolor to a semifinal finish in the Copa do Brasil while claiming the Campeonato Gaúcho title.
Sunday’s storybook sendoff was made even sweeter by the opponent — Rio de Janeiro-based Vasco da Gama and Grêmio share a longstanding cross-regional rivalry.
Clad in the team’s iconic blue, black, and white uniform for the last time, Suárez found the back of the net in the 77th minute on a brilliant right-footed strike from just outside the box.
The thunderous goal set off wild celebrations in Porto Alegre’s Arena do Grêmio and reduced the striker to tears.
“I will miss all of this very much,” he told reporters after the match. “Wherever I end up next, I want it to be a place where I can still win.”
Grêmio executives presented Suárez with a plaque recognizing him as an illustrious citizen of Porto Alegre in a post-match ceremony.
“It was a pleasure to have a world-class player like him wear our jersey,” said Grêmio coach Renato Portaluppi. “We will miss him greatly.”
Miami in Suárez’s Future?
Rumors have swirled for months about the possibility of Suárez reuniting with fellow superstar and close friend Lionel Messi stateside.
Messi signed a two-year contract plus an option year deal with Inter Miami CF in Major League Soccer last summer. The club is part-owned by England legend David Beckham and has emerged as a landing spot for some of the world’s most famous players in the twilight of their careers.
If Suárez heads to South Florida, it would mark the third time he and Messi have shared a locker room. The two previously played alongside each other at Spanish powerhouses FC Barcelona from 2014-2017 and 2020-2021.
But based on the Uruguayan’s recent comments, retirement could also be on the table as Suárez considers preserving his long-term health.
His illustrious 18-year career has seen storied stints with Ajax Amsterdam, Liverpool FC, FC Barcelona, and Atlético Madrid before landing in Brazil. He’s won a treasure trove of trophies across Europe and South America, including the 2015 UEFA Champions League with Barcelona.
“I need to spend more time with my children and determine what is best for my family,” Suárez noted Sunday.
Grêmio plays their final match of the 2023 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A campaign away to Fluminense FC on Wednesday. Suárez’s footballing future remains uncertain, but his eternal place in Tricolor lore is undoubtedly secured.