Luis Suárez (La Coruña, 1935), the only player born in Spain with a Golden Ball (1960), has lived for 30 years with his wife in a flat in a simple neighborhood near San Siro. The architect of the best Inter in history liked to be close to his people, the club of his loves. On the way to the bar where he talks for an hour with EL PAÍS, a local run by Chinese in a small shopping center, the kids stop him, they get selfies and they listen with admiration to what he tells them in an Italian that, if you close your eyes, it sounds like Galician. Tomorrow his two teams face again in Champions. "There is illusion," he explains. But he is a little disappointed by Inter's business lines, which, like the bar where he drinks coffee, have found new owners on the other side of the world. "They do not know who we are because they do not have the culture of football. One day someone will tell them to call me because it's my birthday, "he jokes as the Chinese waitress brings him his capuccino always and calls him by his name.
Question. Inter and Milan, two symbols of the old Italian economic power, are now owned by Asian businessmen. What impact has that had?
Answer. The roots and identity are lost. They come to do their business, but they are not interested in football or Inter. People keep going because they see the shirt and if they win, they are pulling. Now nothing can be done, we do not know how it will end. They do not know that to charge 100 euros more for a subscription, you have to have a good team. They have been lucky with this coach, who is leading him on the right track.
Football has entered a world that has nothing to do with ours. We no longer know what we will die of.
P. When all companies seek to have fans, the teams treat their fans as customers.
R. That's where it looks like they are. They think about attracting people who like football to sell their products, not Inter's. We had always triumphed without that, and the team won worldwide. But here they have allowed themselves to be overdrawn. Football has entered a world that has nothing to do with ours. We no longer know what we will die of.
P. How has the club changed since the departure of the Moratti?
R. First came an Indonesian and showed what was coming. He bought it at a low price in a moment of need and then sold a good piece. Here they do not even come to the matches and they have taken the name of Angelo Moratti from the sports center to put his own. Look, when they arrived, they lent money to Inter with an interest of 10%. And nobody said anything! We only ask that it go well.
P. How do you see this match?
R. The people are happy, there will be a lot of atmosphere. But Inter now is a good team, not a great team. You can not think about winning this competition yet, but the illusion is to make a good championship and next year try to ride a competitive team
P. Is there as much difference between both teams as it seemed in the first leg?
R. If many. Maybe now it will be less noticeable, because Inter will throw the rest and Barcelona may rest a little. But there are five or six teams far superior to Inter today in this competition.
Barça could do more to keep me. I would have stayed
P. What has Ernesto Valverde contributed to Barça?
R. It has come at a difficult time. The most important thing, after Cruyff, was brought by Guardiola and coming behind him was complicated. In some moments, Luis Enrique achieved very good things. But Valverde has arrived late and there are not the same players as the others. A Catalan base of a level that was not normal.
P. The coach would also influence.
R. Clear! But the tactic is fixed, it is not mobile. And then when you go to the field and the referee whistles, they all start to move. [Se ríe] And who do you depend on? Look, the great players serve so that when the game does not take place as the coach has prepared, and that is 99.99% of the time, they fix it. He is already lucky if the one passing by listens to him. The other band, do you think he hears something? And in that Barcelona had some wonderful years.
P. Inter and Barça have been two antagonistic soccer models, but you triumphed in both.
R. Inter had a completely different way of playing, especially when I arrived. There were markings to the man, the libero behind … I came from Barça where an attack football was already played and we had scored 100 goals. Here I lowered my goal scorer a lot, I sacrificed to be able to win titles.
P. And was not he happier playing at Barça?
R. A little more. But if you know how to play, you always have fun. And if you win, even more. I was lucky to do it a lot.
P. Those two models of play were very clearly seen in the Champions League tie with Mourinho in 2010.
R. Yes, they were both extremes. And Mourinho is very intelligent and knew that, despite having a good team, he could not compete 100% against Barça. And he managed to win. Look, if the game is nice and you do not win, people get tired. But the ideal is what Guardiola did.
P. Do you like your football?
R. It's a technical football and, really, it was started by the Dutchman. He in his way was touching things. It was a quality football because it had great players. I, after four or five passes, would have tired and searched for something deeper. [se ríe]
P. Iniesta is the player closest to you?
When they gave me the Golden Ball, they did not even invite me to have a snack. "
R. Technically yes. But Pirlo was more like the way of interpreting the games. I had a very broad football. Not only did the short, and had more goal than Iniesta. I brought Inter. But then they ended up giving it to Milan, they gave Pirlo and Seedorf, and they sent us here to an Argentine. They did the same with Ronaldo. They thought he was not going to recover and then he won a World Cup.
P. You and him were the big steals of Serie A to the League. Today that would not be possible anymore.
R. Now the people from here are going to Spain. Christian wine, but it was not a matter of money. I myself came to Inter, which was a normal team.
P. Why did he leave Barcelona?
R. Barça had some financial need. But in addition, the hobby created a rivalry between Kubala and me and they took it with me. All the supporters of Kubala, who was the whole crowd, naturally went against me. They whistled me in every game, it was amazing. I won the Golden Ball in 1960 with Barça, but they continued to do so. And Helenio Herrera, who left a year earlier, told Moratti: "Do you want to win? Well, bring me this player. " It was necessity and the situation created.
P. So, could Barcelona have done more?
R. Yes. It was enough that I put things in their place and I would have stayed. But I could not go out into the country every day and I was whistled by 100,000 people. Of mine! Maybe that's why he scored more outside the home.
P. How did you digest it?
R. It was not a normal situation. And when I went to the national team and sat down to eat with Di Stefano, he would say to me: "Che Gallego, if you do not like him, come to Madrid." But then the players did not go where we wanted. I would have stayed in Barcelona, with my colleagues and the city was perfect. And I played well …
P. Are you obsessed by any play or game of that time?
R. The final of the European Cup in Bern with Barcelona (1961). It was my last game and of the three finals I played, it was the one I should have won because of how it was. I was very bad. Every time I hear someone complain about a stick, I think we throw four and one, even double. It was a curse.
The Barça de Messi has had equipment to have won more
P. You won the Golden Ball and it was silver twice. Did he become obsessed with that prize as it happens today?
R. No way! Then he did not think about these things. Advertising was infinitely less. When they gave it to me, the director of L'Équipe came to a league match: he gave it to me, I gave it to the masseuse and he took it to the dressing room when we started. They did not offer a dinner or a snack or a snack. Nothing. The change has been brutal. The sports brands of the player and the team take advantage to make a slice.
P. How can it be that no other Spanish has won it?
R. Iniesta should have won it. He won the League and the World Cup, scoring the decisive goal. But that trophy has weird things.
P. You gave Inter two Champions and almost a third. Di Stéfano five to Madrid. The club has missed Messi?
R. Barça have had a team to win more, but direct elimination has these things.