Dani Suárez: “They told me I couldn't play soccer again”

In their last league match, Asteras Tripoli managed to hold Olympiacos at bay for 45 minutes. The same time as Dani Suarez (Madrid, 1990) endured on the grass. The Spanish central defender, who was already notable against Panathinaikos, stayed on the bench at half-time due to a sore right knee. It was then that El Arabi, Valbuena and company began to disturb the goal defended by Papadopoulos, who ended up conceding three goals. “With me in the field it could have been worse. You never know,” justifies Suárez, established as one of the most regular centrals in the Greek Super League. “It has been difficult for me to reach the elite. I have had many difficulties and few people know that”, adds the ex-Madridista.

Although he has not yet eaten at the table of other centrals such as Valera (PAOK) or Semedo (Olympiacos), Dani Suárez is part of the foundations of an Asteras Tripoli that dreams of reaching Europe this season. For Spaniards, playing in Primera is a reward for determination. After leaving the Real Madrid quarry at the age of 25, an injury kept him away from the pitch for two long years. “After that nobody loved me, but they wrote to me on Facebook to go do some tests in Poland. I took a risk and it turned out well,” recalls Dani Suárez, whose last train left when professional football already seemed like a chimera. “The doctors told me that I could not play again, to leave it. I had to start studying INEF”, remember.

In the suitcase he chose to travel to Poland, Dani Suárez carried the boots and tons of faith. Because no one assured him that he was going to sign with Górnik Zabrze, who was playing in the Second Division at that time. Until that moment, the Madrid central defender had been dealing with Cristiano's physio and training with the Rayo Vallecano subsidiary. “And I wasn't feeling well, but it was getting to Poland and I changed the chip. After the first training session I thought: 'Here I stay.' So it was. Suárez signed with one of the biggest clubs in the country, with which he achieved promotion to the Ekstraklasa after a superb end of the season: “With seven games to go we were eight points away from promotion. The press gave us 1% of odds “.

After two and a half seasons in which he came to play the UEFA Europa League qualifying phase with Górnik, Dani Suárez made the leap to the Greek Super League with Asteras, a family club rooted in Tripoli, a small city of no more than 30,000 inhabitants. “I feel important here. I'm playing and enjoying football a lot,” says Suárez, who at 30 feels “better than when he was 24.” The Madrid center-back shares a dressing room with nine other Spanish footballers, which “facilitates adaptation.” They were also a colony last year, when Borja Jiménez took over the team after promoting Mirandés to the Second Division. “His dismissal was marked by the results because we played very well, but we never won. He will end up directing in the First Division because he is a great coach.” Serbian Milan Rastavac now sits on the bench.

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“When you are at Real Madrid you dream of reaching the first team, but I was always very sensible. I came to 'La Fábrica' when I was 19 years old and with 25 I was in Castilla. I knew it was practically impossible for Madrid to pull me. I felt like a veteran in the dressing room and it was clear to me that I would have to look for the beans outside of Valdebebas “, remembers Dani Suárez, who keeps a fond memory of the stage in which he had as coach Zidenine Zidane: “He was always my idol, but when he got to the locker room I started to see him for what he was, my coach. He was great because he knew what we felt at all times and he respected us all equally. The best thing was when he got into the rounds . It was amazing. He was better than us. “

Zidane changed Castilla's day to day. “I remember trips to Bilbao or Socuéllamos. Before Zidane was the coach, we traveled by bus, with him we did it by charter. He always went with two bodyguards and the police escorted us. But not for us. For him,” reveals the Asteras central defender. FC, who also agreed with Odegaard: “He was 16 years old. In his first training session he already showed technical qualities that I hadn't seen before. But Second B is very complicated. In his first game as a starter Zidane changed him at half-time because there was no way.” Like Martin, Dani Suárez had to go abroad to continue his sports career. And although many do not know it – “I still read: 'Wow! Dani is still playing. I didn't know where he was'” -, he is still ready to fight: “I'm better than ever”.