Former Spanish Ballon d’Or winner Luis Suarez dies at 88

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.

The Spaniard became the first player born in the country to win the Ballon d’Or in 1960 and later coached La Roja at the 1990 World Cup.

“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 was loved in Italy too after becoming one of the league’s most celebrated midfielders at Inter Milan under coach Helenio Herrera in the 1960s.

“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 moved to Inter Milan in 1961 for a world record fee 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 them 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, taking them to the World Cup in Italy two years later, where they were beaten by Yugoslavia in the last 16.

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. -BSS

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