For the last decade and a half, Uruguay’s national football team has been led by a formidable attacking duo but now veterans Luis Suarez and EdinsonCavani are heading into their final World Cup with retirement edging ever closer.
Born just 21 days apart in the northern Salto department, the two 35-year-olds have graced some of Europe’s most prestigious clubs while never failing to light up their homeland shores.
Their remarkable careers have left them as the two greatest goalscorers in the Celeste national team’s history: Suarez has 68 goals in 134 matches with Cavani scoring 58 from 133 games.
This will be their fourth World Cup and despite their advancing years they remain heroes to their compatriots.
They are “the best forward pairing in the history of the Celeste”, ESPN journalist Diego Munoz told AFP.
“They put their egos aside, always put the team first and strengthened each other. (They were) essential to a generation that gave back the national team and hope to the people.”
Once their boots are hung up for good, they will be sorely missed.
The attacking duo guaranteed “an important goal-scoring potential that the Celeste has rarely had, at least in the last 60 years,” said journalist Luis Prats, an author of many books on football history.
“Relying on them gave you the confidence that you could even win tight games with few chances. You just had to give them the ball and they finished it.
“On top of that they had great understanding: Cavani created many of Suarez’s goals and vice versa.”
The Qatar World Cup will bring to an end the transformative era under iconic former coach Oscar Tabarez, who spent 15 years at the helm and brought back glory to a side that had not won the Copa America since 1995 nor reached a World Cup semi-final since 1970.
But Cavani says there will be no special emotion attached to this tournament.
“For those that live, feel and love football, and more so for those that wear their country’s jersey, there is no mystery: it’s a World Cup,” Cavani told a local radio station.
“Whether it’s the first or the fifth” makes no difference. “If this doesn’t motivate you, we’re in trouble.”
Neither Suarez nor Cavani are quite the players they once were. – Reuters