Sofia Balbi is the teenage-sweetheart of Uruguayan star striker Luis Suarez. She’s become the most-talked about thing in ESPN magazine’s in-depth piece about Suarez in the lead up to World Cup 2014. The article cites her as a primary reason Suarez became such a motivated young soccer player on the rough streets of Montevideo.
Here’s what you need to know about the love of Suarez’s life:
1. They Met While Suarez Was Working as a Street Sweeper
In the ESPN piece, named “Portrait of a Serial Winner,” Balbi is described as having “blond hair” and “fair skin.” In true rags to riches fashion, they met in 2001 when Suarez was a street sweeper in Uruguay. The article says that he saved up the coins he was paid, and money he found in the street, in order to take her out on a date.
2. Suarez Was Accepted by her Middle Class Family
She’s reported to have lived a comfortable middle-class life in Uruguay, unlike Suarez’s harsh upbringing. Her family welcomed Suarez into their home, encouraged him with his school work, he ate dinner regularly at her house. One of Suarez’s team mates in youth soccer said that Sofia’s family “sheltered him.”
3. Sofia’s Family Moved to Spain From Uruguay in 2003
In 2003, Sofia’s family moved to Barcelona in Spain. The ESPN article speculates that Suarez’s sheet motivation to become a professional soccer player was so that a European team would pay for him to fly across the Atlantic to be with Sofia. That opportunity finally happened when a Dutch team, FC Groningen, took a chance on Suarez in 2006 and he and Sofia were reunited. The striker told The Daily Mail in 2012, “At 15, I found a girlfriend that sorted my head out. It helped be realize how soccer was for me.”
4. They’re Now Married With 2 Kids
The couple were married in 2009. Sofia gave birth to the couple’s first daughter, Delfina, on August 5 2010. In September 2013, they had their second child, Benjamin. The striker celebrated the birth by revealing a t-shirt during a goal celebration welcoming his son into the world.
5. Suarez’s Coach is Big Fan of Sofia
Suarez’s coach at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers is a big fan of Sofia. He spoke in glowing terms to the Daily Mail about Sofia. He said:
She’s a great woman and offers him great stability in his life. She tells him straight and direct. She loves Liverpool, she loves the city, she loves the camaraderie with the other players’ wives. So she’s a real pillar in his life. They’ve been together for a long time. Luis travelled across the world to find her again. It’s an incredible story.
She left Uruguay and went to Barcelona with her parents. He wanted to move to Europe so he would have the chance to meet up with her again.
When he went to Holland, he was only 17 and had gone to Groningen, he asked the coach for a few days off. On those days off, he travelled to Barcelona to go and get her, to bring her back, and they’ve been together ever since.