Uruguay's Luis Suarez believes his two World Cup goals, which downed England on Thursday, were payback for the years of criticism he has received while playing for Liverpool in the Premier League.
The 27-year-old returned from injury to score twice in Uruguay's 2-1 win over England in Sao Paulo—either side of Wayne Rooney's first-ever World Cup goal—and left the Three Lions on the brink of elimination from the tournament after two opening losses in Group D.
The striker said after the encounter that his performance was a dream come true for him after much criticism by the English press and public, per Alex Richards in The Mirror:
I dreamt this, I dreamt this. I'm enjoying this moment, because of all I suffered, the criticism I received. So, there you go.
It was one of the best games I've played. It's an amazing moment for me. Maybe a few days ago I thought this wouldn't be possible. Before the game too many people in England laughed about my attitude over the last few years. This is a very good time for me. I want to see what they think now.
Suarez topped the Premier League scoring charts with 31 goals last season as Liverpool finished second, and he won both the PFA and Football Writers' Association Player of the Year awards.
However, since joining the Reds from Ajax in 2011, he has received much criticism for his conduct, having picked up a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic and an eight-game suspension for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra, per BBC Sport.
His first goal on Thursday was a looping header from an Edinson Cavani cross and his second a powerful strike past Joe Hart when the ball fell to him after a misplaced header from club teammate and England skipper Steven Gerrard.
Suarez had consoling words for his club-captain Gerrard, who was arguably at fault for both of Uruguay's goals, per Richards' piece:
I told him to keep going. He's the best player I've played with on the pitch. This is an unlucky moment for him. I don't like it when he hurts like this. I said 'Keep going, forget this game, you're one of the best'.
Suarez was at his clinical best in Sao Paulo, scoring with Uruguay's only two shots on target, per Squawka.
As the Evening Standard's Patrick Barclay points out, it was a mightily impressive showing from a player who missed Uruguay's opening 3-1 loss to Costa Rica because he was recovering from knee surgery:
England now need results to go their way if they are to have any chance of reaching the last 16 of the World Cup in Brazil.
Italy need to beat both Costa Rica and Uruguay, while England must overcome the Central American side for Roy Hodgson's team to make it through to the knockout rounds.
While England have been relatively impressive in attack against both Italy and Uruguay, defensive weaknesses have been brutally highlighted, and there is certainly no guarantee of victory over Costa Rica in the final group game on Tuesday.
It may well prove to be Suarez who dealt the crucial blow in sending England out of the World Cup. And if he stays at Liverpool this summer, fans around the country will likely vent their anger next season.