Former Barcelona and Inter Milan midfielder Luis Suarez, the only male footballer born in Spain to win the Ballon D’Or, died at the age of 88 on Sunday.
Nicknamed “The Architect” the Spaniard won the prestigious award in 1960 and later coached La Roja at the 1990 World Cup.
“Luis Suarez Miramontes has died this Sunday in Milan at 88 years old,” said Barcelona in a statement.
“He played for Barca between 1954 and 1961 before going to Inter Milan, where he is also a legend.”
Suarez was loved in Italy after becoming one of the league’s most celebrated midfielders at Inter Milan under coach Helenio Herrera in the 1960s, whom he followed from Barcelona.
“Saying goodbye to Luisito leaves us with a deep melancholy—the nostalgia of his perfect and inimitable football, which inspired generations, is combined with the memory of a unique footballer and a great, great Inter player,” wrote Inter in a statement.
Suarez, born in La Coruna in 1935, began his career at Deportivo La Coruna, before moving to Barcelona in 1954.
He won two La Liga trophies with the Catalan giants, among other silverware and earning the Ballon d’Or.
The only other player born in Spain to win the Ballon d’Or is Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas, who has won the women’s trophy twice.
Alfredo Di Stefano, who played for Argentina and later the Spanish national team, won it twice but was born in Buenos Aires.
“Suarez was a stupendous player, among the best Spaniards ever in history, along with Xavi (Hernandez) and (Andres) Iniesta,” said Di Stefano in one of his last interviews before his death in 2014.
• ‘Elegance’ –
Barcelona lauded Suarez as one of the best players in the history of Spanish football.
“He had it all as a player, superior technique, unbeatable ability with the ball at his feet, a privileged vision of the game and a great shot,” said the Catalan club in a statement.
“However, most of all, he stood out for the elegance of his game.”
He scored 112 goals in 216 games for Barcelona in his seven years at the club, winning the Ballon d’Or while in Catalonia. However Suarez played down the importance of the accolade.
“There have been many Spanish players who have deserved that award, but it depends a lot on the moment—you have to be lucky that another great contemporary player doesn’t perform as well as you,” Suarez told FIFA’s website.
“There have been great players who have never lifted the trophy.”
Suarez moved to Inter Milan in 1961 for a then world record fee of 250 million lire (£142,000) and won two European Cups and three Serie A trophies as well as other silverware during the club’s most glorious era.
He also lifted the European Championships trophy with Spain in 1964, making 32 appearances for the national team.
Suarez retired in 1973 at Sampdoria, going on to coach both the Genoa side and Inter, as well as Como and Cagliari.
“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.
“His father told me that if he’s called Luis, it’s my fault,” the Spaniard told So Foot in 2016.
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