The rehabilitation of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez’s image took another step forward on Sunday night as he was named as the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year.
“The Premier League is full of really great players and so it is a great honour when these players recognise your work on the pitch,” Suarez said.
“I always try my best for the team and it is nice to get awards but really this is for my team-mates and the staff at Liverpool because without their help I wouldn’t have this prize.”
Suarez, who becomes the first Liverpool player to win the award since Steven Gerrard picked up the accolade back in 2006, was the overwhelming favourite for the top award after enjoying arguably the best season of his career.
What has made his feat more remarkable is the fact he was suspended for five matches at the start of the season as his ban for biting Ivanovic carried over into this campaign.
The South American has put behind him a troublesome year which saw him agitating for a move in the summer, even at one stage claiming manager Brendan Rodgers had reneged on a deal to allow him to leave for a Champions League club.
Rodgers’ handling of the situation has been impressive but the Reds boss insisted all of the credit should be with the player.
‘He is a brilliant talent. I think the supporters have seen him mature over the course of the last season,’ Rodgers said of Suarez on Friday.
‘I think he was in a real low moment after that game (against Chelsea last year) but he has gone away and probably looked in the mirror and reflected on himself because he is not that type of guy and it probably just spilled over.
‘He is a really intelligent man who fits the values of this club, which is all about humility, class and he has all of that.
‘He is a sheer winner and that probably overspilled last year but his development over the last year has been remarkable both on and off the field and Liverpool have benefited from that.
‘For me he is the consistently outstanding player over the course of the last year.’