Luis Suarez will be forever grateful to Atletico Madrid for giving him a chance to lead a title charge following his departure from Barcelona.
Suarez had been a star at Barca since his arrival from Liverpool in 2014, yet his six-year spell at Camp Nou came to an abrupt end when he was deemed surplus to requirements by the club.
Lionel Messi was unhappy with the decision, which has proved even more bizarre given Barca’s troubles, with Suarez ultimately proving decisive in the title race.
Atleti clinched their 11th LaLiga crown thanks to his goal on Saturday, which sealed a 2-1 comeback win over Real Valladolid, meaning Real Madrid’s late turnaround against Villarreal was irrelevant.
Suarez’s 21 top-flight goals have been worth 21 points to Atleti this season – more than any other LaLiga player.
And, in an emotional interview with Movistar, Suarez explained his debt to Atleti.
“The situation I experienced last summer was difficult, the way I was underestimated,” the 34-year-old said.
“Barca didn’t value me and Atletico opened their doors for me to keep on showing the player I am. I will always be grateful to this club for trusting in me.”
Atleti had won four of their previous five LaLiga away games against Valladolid heading into Saturday’s showdown, but their opponents – who were relegated as a result of their eventual defeat – went ahead in the 18th minute through Oscar Plano’s breakaway goal.
Yet Angel Correa’s stunning solo effort – his 20th direct goal involvement for Atleti across all competitions in 2020-21 – restored parity, before Suarez pounced on a Michel error to complete the turnaround.
It marks Simeone’s eighth trophy win with Atleti, and his second LaLiga title. He is only the third coach to lead the club to two league crowns, while no other manager has accumulated such a silverware haul with Los Colchoneros.
Another key figure in the title charge has been Marcos Llorente, who finishes the campaign with 13 goals and 12 assists across all competitions.
“We’re knackered,” he added. “It’s been a really tight season with a lot of games. It’s been tough physically, but in the end we’ve got this crucial win and we’ve managed to win the title. The togetherness we have has been crucial to achieving this.
“We felt the nerves a bit today given it was such a key game, but we just wanted to win so as not to have to think about the result of the other game. At the break we managed to calm ourselves down and we went out there and turned the match around.”