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Football: Suarez lets temper get the better of talent

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Just months after being hailed as Liverpool's answer to Lionel Messi, Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is once again fighting to salvage his tarnished reputation after the latest scandal to mar his controversial career.

Suarez sparked headlines across the world after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during Sunday's 2-2 draw at Anfield.

He has already been fined by Liverpool for the incident and faces a lengthy suspension from the Football Association.

It is a far cry from the moment back in November when Suarez came to Liverpool's rescue with a typically sublime equaliser against Newcastle, prompting Reds manager Brendan Rodgers to compare his star forward to the world's best player.

"He plays the false nine role like Messi does for Barcelona," Rodgers said. "Suarez's goal was brilliant. He is a world-class striker."

While the comparisons with Barcelona striker Messi carried more than a hint of hyperbole, there is no doubting Rodgers was right to salute a unique talent capable of transforming any match with his lethal finishing, clever movement and ferocious work-rate.

In a Liverpool team lacking top-class talent in several positions, Suarez has almost single-handedly kept the club in contention to qualify for the Europa League.

After heading a stoppage-time equaliser against Chelsea on Sunday, Suarez became the first Liverpool striker to scored 30 goals in a single season since Fernando Torres in the 2007-08 campaign.

The 26-year-old's superb form put him in the running for the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Player of the year award voted for by his fellow professionals.

Sadly for Rodgers, he now has to deal with the fall-out from Suarez's latest rush of blood to the head and the subsequent damage to Liverpool's global image.

It has always been the way with Suarez from the moment he began playing football on the streets of Salto in Uruguay.

Playing in such rough and tumble surroundings required what Uruguayans call "Picardia" -- a mix of cunning, naughtiness and feistiness -- and Suarez has never quite shaken off that approach.

Suarez has given his critics more than enough ammunition to take aim at him during a career destined to be remembered more for his string of controversies than the skills that make him one of the world's top strikers.

His international debut for Uruguay should have been a proud moment but Suarez managed to spoil the occasion as he was sent off in the final minutes for dissent.

Suarez became one of football's least-liked characters at the 2010 World Cup when he deliberated handled on the goal-line to deny Ghana a goal in the quarter-finals and was sent off.

Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting spot-kick but Suarez's celebratory response angered many, as did Uruguay's eventual progress to the last four via a penalty shoot-out.

Then in November 2010, Suarez was banned for seven matches and dubbed the "Cannibal of Ajax" after biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal.

By now he seemed incapable of avoiding trouble but it was still a shock when, in December 2011, he was banned for eight matches and fined £40,000 ($60,000) after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.

Then just a few weeks later he received a one-match ban for making an offensive gesture to Fulham fans and in February 2012 he refused to shake hands with Evra when Liverpool faced United at Old Trafford.

Further incidents have followed this season, with an admission that he dived in an attempt to win a penalty against Stoke followed by a deliberate handball that lead to the FA Cup third round winner at Mansfield.

Yet Liverpool have kept faith with Suarez time and again. There is little sign of the Reds bowing to public opinion and selling their star this time either.

Whether that gamble is worth the growing stain on Liverpool's reputation is another matter entirely.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130422/football-suarez-lets-temper-get-the-better-talent