MADRID: Luis Suarez said he will always have Atletico Madrid in his heart after the striker waved goodbye to the club’s home fans following a 1-1 draw against Sevilla on Sunday.
The result meant Sevilla finally confirmed their place in La Liga‘s top four as a late equaliser by Youssef En-Nesyri at the Wanda Metropoliano secured qualification for the Champions League.
“Thank you Lucho for making us champions”, read a giant banner unfurled in the crowd before kick-off while Suarez was visibly tearful as he paraded the pitch with his family after full-time.
The 35-year-old is set to leave Atletico when his two-year contract expires this summer.
After being forced out by cash-strapped Barcelona in 2020, Suarez exacted revenge by proving instrumental in Atletico’s monumental La Liga title triumph last season, when he scored 21 goals in 32 league appearances and finished as the team’s top scorer.
The Uruguayan has been useful but less emphatic this term, scoring 14 goals in 48 appearances and his own dip from last year’s high standards has been symptomatic of Atletico’s malaise more generally.
Suarez has often started on the bench since the turn of the year, with Joao Felix increasingly preferred by Atletico coach Diego Simeone.
“I thank all the Atletico fans, every one of them,” said Suarez afterwards.
“The love they gave me since I arrived has been amazing and I will not forget it. I tried to return it on the pitch, I gave myself 200 per cent to a club that opened its doors to me.
“I will always carry the affection of this club with me after not being able to enjoy myself the previous season. I will take Atletico with me in my heart.”
Jose Gimenez’s first-half header looked set to give Atletico victory and with Real Betis beating Granada, Sevilla’s fight for fourth would have gone down to a nail-biting final day.
Instead, En-Nesyri nodded in Oliver Torres’ cross with five minutes remaining to earn Sevilla the point they needed to guarantee their top-four spot, after a hugely disappointing few weeks that has seen their coach Julen Lopetegui come under pressure.
Instead, Lopetegui was tossed into the air by Sevilla’s celebrating players after the final whistle.
En-Nesyri’s equaliser also prevented Atletico making sure of third place.
Atletico sit a point ahead of Sevilla and have a tough trip away at Real Sociedad to finish the season next weekend. Sevilla will play at home to Athletic Bilbao.