Rodgers: Suarez has made me better
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says he has "become a better manager and a better person because of Luis Suarez," in a passionate speech delivered at the Football Writers' Association dinner in London.
Suarez was a convincing winner of the annual FWA poll to crown the Footballer of the Year in the Premier League, with Rodgers suggesting his rehabilitation was complete after he was selected by England's elite journalists for the prestigious award.
Many FWA members who voted for Suarez this season were among his more outspoken critics this time last year, as he received a ten-game ban for his infamous bite on the arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, but the platitudes were flowing towards the Uruguayan at the black-tie dinner.
"I think everybody knows the struggles he had in the last year," Rodgers said. "It has been incredibly difficult for him, but rehabilitation is always respected in the country. People who want to change for the better and he is certainly someone that was at a real low point at the end of the last season.
"I know that better than anyone. It was a real, real difficult period for him but he went away and, after a difficult summer, the power of Liverpool and the club that it is convinced him to stay.
"Once we got the season under way, he concentrated on his football and we've had a number of outstanding players this season, but Luis Suarez has been incredible."
Rodgers went on to provide an insight into the Suarez he has grown to admire during his two season's as Liverpool boss.
"When I came into Liverpool as manager, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard said to me this was the best player that they had played with," added Rodgers.
"I thought about those two and all the great players they've played with in their career, so I was really interested to see what his play was like close up.
"For me, he has challenged me every day of my life, he's done everything that you would need to do at the top level of the game as a player.
"He is a winner, his determination is unique, he is absolutely relentless. He is someone that trains every single day of his life. He doesn't look for an excuse.
"What people don't see is that he is a very intelligent man. He is a winner when he crosses the line, but with great intelligence.
"For a young manager like myself coming into a club like Liverpool, I understand the pressures of the club and those pressures include everything that involves managing top players.
"I know for however long I am at Liverpool, whenever I leave I will have become a better manager and a better person because of Luis Suarez and for that I thank him so much."