Former Barcelona and Inter Milan midfielder Luis Suarez, the only Spanish-born men’s footballer to have won the Ballon d’Or, has died at the age of 88, the two clubs said on Sunday.
Suarez, who joined Barca in 1955, won the Ballon d’Or, soccer’s most prestigious individual trophy, after claiming a league and cup double with the Catalan side in 1959.
He also won 32 caps for Spain and was part of the squad which won the European Championship in 1964.
“Luis Suarez Miramontes died this Sunday in Milan at the age of 88,” Barcelona said in a statement.
“Affectionately known as ‘Luisito’, he is considered by everyone to be one of the best players in the history of Spanish football, as well as being a key part of Barca in the second half of the 1950s.”
Suarez joined Inter in 1961, winning three Serie A titles, two European Cups and two Intercontinental Cups during his nine years in Milan.
“Saying goodbye to Luisito leaves us with a profound sadness: nostalgia for his perfect and incomparable football, which inspired generations, is combined with the memory of a unique footballer and a great, great Inter player,” Inter said in a statement.
“We will miss him, because as (former Inter manager) Helenio Herrera preached, ‘If you don’t know what to do, give the ball to Suarez’.”
After retiring from playing in 1973 Suarez went on to manage Inter, Deportivo La Coruna, Cagliari and SPAL. He also took charge of the Spanish national team between 1988-91, leading them past the group stage of the 1990 World Cup.
Alfredo di Stefano, who won the Ballon d’Or in 1957 and 1959, was born in Argentina but took Spanish nationality in 1956.