Remarkably it remains the only Ballon d’Or ever won by a Spanish player, although many Barcelona players have repeated the feat including Cruyff, Stoichkov, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Messi.
“He has the authority of a duke, the precision of a geometrist and the beauty of an Apollo,” the magazine France Football explained, putting Suarez on their cover.
“Speed, changes of pace, skill, power and great precision in striking, he’s a rare player who could pass for an individualist but who puts all his talent at the service of the collective.”
The Ballon d’Or began to be given in 1956 and had seen just three previous winners before Suarez; Stanley Matthews, Di Stefano and Kopa.
Suarez, at 25, was at the time the youngest ever winner, beating Real Madrid’s Ferenc Puskas in second place. Journalists from 19 European countries voted.
There was no glitzy ceremony, however. Instead of traveling to Paris to receive the award it travelled to Barcelona, arriving three months after the announcement.
Pierre Skavinsky, the deputy director of the magazine, gave the award to Suarez on the pitch ahead of Barcelona’s European Cup clash with Spartak Kralove of Czechoslovakia.
“They gave it to me, I gave it to the masseur so he could keep it on the bench and it stayed there until the end of the game,” Suarez recalled. “My teammates congratulated me and we began the game, nothing more.”
Suarez gave Barcelona the Ballon d’Or in April of 2015 so that it could be displayed in the club’s museum. It remains there until this day.
Featured image courtesy of Diario Sport.