Luis Suárez Miramontes, the so-called “Golden Galician” who is the only Spanish man to win soccer’s most prestigious individual award, the Ballon d’Or, has died, according to former club Inter Milan. He was 88.
Although born in the northwest Spanish region of Galicia, the midfielder won the bulk of his trophies in Italy with Inter, including the European Cup in 1964 and 1965 and three Italian league titles. Suárez moved to Inter from Barcelona after winning two Spanish league titles.
“Sadly his greatest and most successful period came when he was no longer a Barca player,” Barcelona’s website noted.
Suárez won the Ballon d’Or in 1960 and was runner-up in 1961 and 1964. He played on Spain’s team that won the 1964 European Championship, its first major title.
After retiring in 1973, Suárez had three spells coaching Inter. He also managed Spain’s national side from 1988-91.
Suárez downplayed his Ballon d’Or, a trophy that eluded subsequent Spanish superstars including Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Raul Gonzalez.
“So much depends on the era you find yourself living in,” Suárez told FIFA’s website. “You need the slice of luck that comes when another great player of your time doesn’t perform quite so well. There have been truly great players who have never won that award. It’s not that big a deal.”
Real Madrid forward Alfredo di Stefano, who won the award in 1957 and 1959, was born in Argentina.
Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas has won the women’s Ballon d’Or twice.