Days after Lucas Leiva announced his retirement from football due to a heart issue, long-time team-mate Luis Suarez paid tribute with a goal.
With an irregularity in his heart detected during pre-season tests with Brazilian side Gremio, Lucas was eventually forced to retire as a player.
At 36, the midfielder conceded that his “health comes first,” though it was clearly not an easy decision to make as he revealed the news in a tearful press conference on Friday.
Lucas finished his career, then, with his boyhood club, and for a brief time he again called Suarez a team-mate.
Suarez concluded his time in Europe with Atletico Madrid in 2022, and after a stint with Nacional in his native Uruguay he joined Gremio in December.
So far, the 36-year-old has scored seven goals and laid on three assists in 11 games for the Porto Alegre club, including one against Ypiranga-RS on Sunday.
Opening the scoring with a fine, right-footed finish in the 12th minute, Suarez wheeled away in celebration before lifting his shirt to reveal a tribute to Lucas.
“Lucas, our heart is with you,” the message read.
The entire Gremio side played the Campeonato Gaucho semi-final first-leg tie wearing Lucas’ name on the back of their shirts, with his importance to the club made clear.
???? #YPIxGRE #Gauchão2023 pic.twitter.com/helm19RGZY
— Grêmio FBPA (@Gremio) March 19, 2023
Suarez was booked for his gesture, while Gremio went on to lose 2-1 through two late penalties from Ypiranga-RS winger Erick, setting up a tense second leg on Saturday.
Lucas took in the game at home, beginning what he has described as a “restart,” as he showed himself exercising alongside his son, Pedro, on Sunday.
The final of the 2023 Campeonato Gaucho will be held over two legs on April 2 and 9, while the Serie A season begins the following weekend.
Gremio earned promotion back to the Brazilian top flight by finishing second in Serie B last time out, with Lucas scoring in their decisive 3-0 win over Nautico in October.