Is there a player in Liverpool’s recent history more controversial than Luis Suarez?
During his three-and-a-half years in a Reds shirt, the Uruguayan transfixed supporters with his ever-present tenacity and obvious quality – but that doesn’t tell the full story.
Not once, but twice during his time at Anfield, Suarez was involved in two separate biting incidents – one for Liverpool and one for Uruguay.
Another incident, albeit not quite as controversial, occurred nine years ago today.
January 6, 2013 saw Liverpool take on then-Non-League side Mansfield Town in the third round of the FA Cup.
There was controversy even before kick-off, when Suarez was pictured walking into the stadium next to a young fan who was holding out something for the striker to sign.
It is not clear whether or not Suarez stopped to provide an autograph for the fan, but the photo circulated on social media and led to further criticism of the striker.
Manager Brendan Rodgers named Suarez on the bench for the trip to the One Call Stadium, whilst club captain Steven Gerrard wasn’t involved at all.
One player who featured in the starting line-up was Daniel Sturridge, who was making his debut after he completed a £13million move from Chelsea a few days previously.
It was predicted to be a one-sided contest involving a Premier League side against a non-league team – it proved to be very different.
Sturridge took just seven minutes to get off the mark for Liverpool, latching onto a Jonjo Shelvey through ball to place his effort past Stags goalkeeper Alan Marriott.
From that point on, it was expected that Liverpool would go on to score more goals and win the game with relative ease, but that didn’t happen.
Chances occurred at both ends, with Sturridge going close several times but couldn’t double his tally for the tie.
Just before the hour-mark, Rodgers opted to call time on Sturridge’s debut and bring on Suarez to seal the victory.
It took just four minutes for the Uruguayan to find the back of the net, running into the box after a pass from Stewart Downing to meander his way through the defence and score Liverpool’s second goal.
However, it was here where yet more controversy surrounded the former Reds No.7.
It appeared that Suarez unintentionally handled the ball when it ricocheted in the build-up, which allowed him to go through and score.
Despite many protests from Mansfield players, staff and fans, the goal stood, which made for a hostile atmosphere in the closing stages.
This led to Mansfield chairman John Radford to say that Liverpool should be “embarrassed” and accused Suarez of “gloating” after the handball.
Suarez, of course, had a tradition celebration of kissing his wrist in tribute to his daughter Delfina, but this angered Radford when he was interviewed after the game.
“When you get a professional player like Suarez and when they celebrate after a deliberate foul, then of course it hurts,” said Radford.
“Obviously he was (gloating). It was like, ‘Hang on, I can get away with this’. If one of my players had done that, I’d be embarrassed.
He added: “They’ve denied us a replay but it doesn’t matter. I’m big enough and daft enough to stand up for the club and take us forward.
“But it’s hurtful for the league we are in. I’d have been embarrassed and the man should be embarrassed.
“To do it deliberately and then celebrate is the hardest thing. To cheat, OK, but to cheat and then celebrate cheating… that is the worst thing you can do.
“One day, cheats will never prosper. To be honest, the Liverpool directors felt embarrassed. I would have been absolutely embarrassed and the manager should be embarrassed.”
The home side pulled a goal back through Matt Green 10 minutes from time to set up a nervy finish, but the Reds held on to secure the victory.
Liverpool were drawn away to Oldham Athletic in the fourth round, which they lost 3-2.