Luis Suarez may have received widespread condemnation for his infamous bite on Giorgio Chiellini, but the Italy defender admits he admires the fiery striker for his actions.
Suarez caused outrage in 2014 when, during a hard-fought World Cup group decider between Uruguay and Italy, he sank his teeth into Chiellini's shoulder. He escaped punishment on the pitch as the Celeste downed their rivals 1-0 and advanced to the last 16, but later received a four-month ban from all football activities for his actions.
Chiellini has his own reputation as a fearsome opponent on the pitch, though, and can understand how Suarez lost control in that infamous match.
“The truth is, I admire his mischief, because if Suarez were to lose that, he would become an average player,” Chiellini in his recently released autobiography, In Giorgio. “Nothing strange happened that day in the 2014 World Cup. I marked Edinson Cavani for most of the game, another complicated guy to keep up with, and we held nothing back.
“Suddenly, I realised I’d been bitten on the shoulder. It happened, that’s all there is to it, but that is his strategy when fighting with body-to-body contact and, if I may say, it’s mine too."
Chiellini went on to state that he required no contrition from the striker, and that such incidents were understandable.
“Suarez and I are similar and I like facing strikers like him. I called him a couple of days after the game, but he had no need to apologise to me. I too am a son of a b*tch on the field and proud of it," he added. “Mischief and a little bit of malice are part of the game, I wouldn’t call that cheating. You need to be intelligent to overcome your rival.”
Juventus star Chiellini's autobiography has caused a storm in the football world as extracts reveal the centre-back's unfiltered opinions of opponents and team-mates alike.
"You can only go and talk to him in his office before taking a shower, still wearing your playing kit, because otherwise you'd stink of smoke!" he said of Juve coach Maurizio Sarri, while Mario Balotelli was labelled "a negative person" who "deserved a slap" for his conduct when part of Italy's squad at the 2013 Confederations Cup.
Former Juve colleague Felipe Melo also found himself in the cross-hairs, with Chiellini describing the Brazilian as "the worst of the worst" and revealing he told the team's management he was "a rotten apple".