Luis Suarez beamed a broad smile as the cameras flashed. In his hands he clutched the adidas Golden Ball as the most outstanding player of the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2015 and the Alibaba E-Auto Man of the Match Award, his second of the tournament following his outstanding performance against Guangzhou Evergrande in the semi-finals.
With his five goals in two games at the International Stadium Yokohama, Suarez pulled level with fellow Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and another Argentinian, Cesar Delgado, as the leading goalscorer in the history of the competition. Revelling in the moment as he celebrated the first Club World Cup title of his career, he waved to the stands and hugged his team-mates.
Finding time for a chat with FIFA.com after emerging from the dressing room, El Pistolero revealed his thoughts as he reflected on a magical night for him personally and for Barça.
FIFA.com: Did you dream of moments like this when you were growing up in Uruguay?
Luis Suarez: It’s nice to play in these tournaments. The Intercontinental Cup is now the Club World Cup and it’s something that’s excited me since I was a boy, when I used to wake up at six in the morning to watch these games. It’s one of the dreams I had yet to fulfil.
Do you remember the 1988 final with Hugo de Leon and the rest of your boyhood club Nacional?
Of course I do! That was the final against PSV (Eindhoven). I remember lots of them. I remember Olimpia, Palmeiras and Boca. Those are things that come into your mind, wonderful moments that I’m now experiencing myself from the other side and which I want to enjoy to the maximum.
You’re playing alongside stars of the calibre Lionel Messi and Neymar and yet it’s you walking away with the adidas Golden Ball. Why do you think that is?
I think it also had a lot to do with the fact that they didn’t play in the first game (laughs)! They’re both match-winners and it’s great to have them by my side, to know that they’re there. This award isn’t just for me, it’s for the whole team. I’m looking on it as recognition for all the hard work the team’s put in to get this far, for all the sacrifice they’ve made. I’m very happy to have helped out with my goals, but the most important thing is to come away with the trophy. That’s what makes me happy.
Talk us through the final.
They played really well in the first half, until Leo scored. They had a lot of situations too and they played like a typical South American team, intercepting the ball and closing us down high up the pitch. We got the second and third goals in the second half though, which made life tougher for them and easier for us. Getting the second goal gave us a little peace of mind as it’s hard to come back from 2-0 down against us, although that’s what happened to us against Deportivo La Coruna (in the Spanish league). Getting the third helped us relax.
You’ve had an amazing 2015, winning the Liga, the Copa del Rey, the Champions League and now the Club World Cup. What are your hopes for 2016?
The main thing is that my wife and children stay healthy. They’re what matters most to me in this world.