15 fun facts about Darwin Nunez

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Darwin Nunez
Everything you need to know about Uruguay hitman Darwin Nunez!

Darwin Nunez is a Uruguayan professional footballer who currently plays as a striker for the English Premier League club Liverpool and the Uruguay national team. He was born on June 24, 1999, in Artigas, Uruguay, and began his football career in the youth academy of his local team, Artigas.

Nunez joined Montevideo-based Uruguayan club Penarol in 2016, when he was 17. He made his professional debut with Penarol in 2018 and rapidly established himself as one of Uruguay's most promising young players.

In the summer of 2019, Nunez signed for the Spanish second-division outfit Almeria, where he had an impressive debut season, scoring 16 goals in 32 appearances across all competitions. He quickly became a fan favourite and played a key role in Almeria's promotion to La Liga.

His move to Almeria arrived at the same time he earned his first call-up to the Uruguayan senior team and he scored inside five minutes of his introduction as a substitute against Peru in October of 2019.

Nunez's exploits in front of goal in the Spanish second-tier caught the attention of Portuguese giants Benfica, who paid a reported €24m fee to secure his services, making him the most expensive signing in the history of the Portuguese league.

After making 85 appearances and netting 48 goals during his fruitful two-year stay at Benfica, he attracted the attention of Premier League heavyweights Liverpool, who beat competition from rivals Manchester United to secure his signature, paying a club-record £85m to prise him away from the Eagles.

He has had a sparkling start to his Liverpool career with a hat-trick in pre-season, followed by a match-winning goal on his competitive debut against Manchester City, but is still settling into life in Merseyside on and off the pitch and has had his share of struggles.

Nevertheless, he will be a huge asset for Liverpool, and is destined to shine brightly in the near future given his high ceiling and undoubted poaching instincts.

What are the 13 things you absolutely need to know about the Liverpool striker?

  1. Humble beginnings

    Things haven't always been rosy for Nunez, who is now one of the wealthiest person back in his homeland, as he sought success in Europe earlier in his career.

    The forward's story is one of rags to riches, as he went from obscurity to fame. Nunez was born in one of the most underprivileged neighbourhoods of Uruguay, Artigas, and into a less than fortunate family as his mother was a bottle-hawker while his father was a construction worker.

    His parents regularly struggled to put food on the table. And when they did, it often came with sacrifice, with Nunez once claiming that his mother who went to bed hungry at times to provide for him and his brother.

    Apart from a lack of basic needs, the area where he lived was prone to flooding from the Cuareim river, costing the family significantly as they had to regularly invest in home repairs.

  2. The Anfield audition
    Getty Images

    The Anfield audition

    Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has a reputation of signing players off the back of an impressive audition against his side. The likes of Sadio Mane, Takumi Minamino, and even Luis Diaz were all scooped up by the Reds after Klopp watched them live from the dugout.

    Nunez was put through a similar test when Liverpool and Benfica locked horns in the Champions League quarter-final last season. While the Eagles lost the tie 6-4 on aggregate, the 23-year-old passed his audition with flying colours, hitting a goal in either leg.

    He even slotted a hat-trick of goals past Alisson at Anfield, even if two were ultimately chalked off due to offside. The youngster certainly proved he knew how to find the back of net, and fast forward to the summer window, Nunez was unveiled as new Liverpool signing for a club-record £85m.

    The German head coach later admitted that he "fell in love" with the striker last term. If you perform well against Klopp's Reds, you may well find yourself at Anfield sooner rather than later.

  3. Was Linked to Brighton & Southampton

    After only one season in Spain, the young forward had several admirers during the summer transfer window of 2021, especially from the Premier League. Both Brighton and Southampton were reportedly interested in signing the Uruguayan striker, with the latter even making a bid.

    Meanwhile, there was also rumours of interest from European giants such as RB Leipzig and Napoli. However, Benfica ultimately won the race for his signature, securing his services for a club-record fee.

  4. A mix of Edinson Cavani & Luis Suarez?

    A mix of Edinson Cavani & Luis Suarez?

    Nunez is regarded one of the talented strikers in this upcoming generation. He has it all: speed, technique, acceleration, strength, perseverance, and of course, finishing.

    Standing at 6'2' but with a burst of pace and defensive tenacity, the forward does share some physical resemblance to the legendary Urguay striker Edinson Cavani.

    However, Leonardo Ramos, who coached Nunez at Penarol in Uruguay, believes he shares characteristics with both 'El Matador' and another famous La Celeste striker, Luis Suarez, and can be a hybrid of both.

    Ramos told Stats Perform: "I think he has two parts, it's half-and-half.

    "He has the power that Suarez had to go for everything, to go to the clash, to be a fighter with the rival. And he also has the part of Cavani, of being a much more athletic player, more physical, more intelligent.

    "I think it's a union of those two things that are important."

  5. The U-turn

    At the age 14, the rising talent was snapped up by one of the most historic Uruguayan club, Penarol, after successful trials. This, however, required him to move to Uruguay's capital, Montevideo. He soon started missing his family, and feeling homesick.

    Assessing the situation, the club allowed the young kid to return back to his old team, San Miguel de Artigas, to be close to his family. One year later, he began playing for Penarol academy again after his parents' promise of visiting him regularly.

    His brother was also asked to join the academy.

  6. Family Sacrifices

    While Nunez had a very tough upbringing due to financial problems, his family made sure it didn't affect his love for the game, and his desire to play football professionally.

    In fact, his elder brother, Junior, had to give up on his formative football career to pave the way for him. While still teenagers, the brothers trained together, and eventually enrolled in the same Uruguayan club.

    However, this is when the biggest setbacks of Darwin's career occurred as he injured his cruciate ligament and had to undergo surgery.

    Couple this with the fact that his parents' combined income wasn't enough to feed the family, Junior took the painful decision to give up on his football, and find a job to support the family. In essence, he gave up on his dreams, so that his younger brother (Darwin) could continue pursuing his. What a lovely act of brotherly sacrifice!

  7. Almost QUIT football at 17

    Nunez is fast becoming one of the most prominent young strikers in Europe at the moment. However, what if we tell you Nunez was on the cusp of quitting football altogether some years back.

    Nunez made a positive start second time around in the Penarol youth ranks, but before taking the big leap forward, he had to put injury hell as a teenager behind him.

    His progression came to an abrupt halt as he suffered a severe ACL injury. He was expected to be back from that injury in six months, but it took him closer to 18 months before he played regularly again after several setbacks.

    In February 2017, he underwent surgery on the injury and the emotional blow was so tough that he nearly turned his back on his dream. Brother Junior had by this time given up his dream of playing professionally and would eventually become a policeman. Darwin began thinking if his fate would be the similar as he sought to provide for his family.

    Thankfully, his coaches gave him some wise words to keep believing in himself and his ambitions, as he would regularly doubt his own capabilities, and his family remained by his side to give him strength while he faced difficult times.

  8. The Lion tattoo 🦁✒️

    The Lion tattoo 🦁✒️

    Liverpool's powerhouse centre-forward is as tough as he looks!

    Nunez is clearly a big fan of tattoos, and body artwork. He has amassed quite a collection of tattoos on his body. The word 'Family', which has been gorgeously embroidered on his chest, and serves as the focal point; alongside flowers, sketches of mythical/religious figures from history can be found on his left arm and right shin.

    However, arguably the most intriguing is a tattoo of a lion on his back.

    He has said that the lion represents strength and courage, which are qualities that he strives to embody both on and off the pitch. The lion is also a symbol of his strong, determined, and fearless personality both as a player and a person.

  9. Fernando Torres comparisons!

    Fernando Torres comparisons!

    Liverpool fans on social media have compared Nunez to 'prime Fernando Torres' due to his unorthodox, chaotic style. So much so, you can even find a Youtube skills compilation of parallel strikes between the two.

    Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, who managed Torres during his time at Anfield, holds a similar opinion. Speaking to Sky Sports, Benitez claimed Nunez can follow in the footsteps of Fernando Torres to become an Anfield great despite making a tricky start to life.

    The Spaniard said: "Fernando, one of the issues at the beginning was that - he was not a great finisher. Little by little, because he was in front of the ‘keeper so many times, he could have more time and more composure, I would put the ball here or there but at the beginning, he was great as a player, but here in England, because the defenders are wider and stronger, in the space he was killing them and having more chances."

    He has plenty to live up to if he is to try and replicate the goalscoring form prime Torres brought to Anfield during his time at the club.

  10. Luis Suarez recommended Nunez to Barcelona as his replacement

    While Nunez was still firing goals in the second-tier of Spanish football, Luis Suarez had seen enough of him as international teammate to recommend Barcelona to snap him up as his long-term replacement at the Camp Nou. To their regret, the advice was not taken.

    Speaking to journalist Gerard Romero through his program on Twitch, Jijantes, Suarez said: "When [Nunez] was at Almeria, I said it at Barcelona. They asked me and I said, 'take care of this one, he has very interesting things...', but they replied 'no, he's in Almeria, he's very young'.

    "But instead of paying now £80m, £90m or £100m, they would have paid £15m or £20m. Of course, he recognises that not to be a starter then. To have him as a substitute for [me], but he is a player who needs to enhance."

    Nunez did end up joining one of Suarez's former clubs further down the line in his career, Liverpool, rather than Barcelona.

  11. Nicknamed 'The Pigeon' and 'Plane' ✈️

    'El Pichón' is one of the most commonly used nicknames for Nunez. It roughly translates to 'The Pigeon' in Spanish and is a reference to his hometown, Artigas, which is known for its large population of pigeons.

    The nickname has become more popular since Nunez's move to Benfica, with fans creating chants to cheer him. The Uruguayan himself has embraced it, using it in his social media posts and even wearing a shirt with 'El Pichón' printed on the back during a post-match interview.

    There are some other Nunez nicknames as well, including 'El Avion', which translates to 'The Plane'. This nickname is used to highlight his speed and agility on the pitch.

    During his teenage years, he was also known as 'Flaco', which means 'skinny'. These references, however, are less known.

  12. Family Comes First

    Nunez is conscious of the importance of valuing those who made sacrifices for the sake of his career.

    As soon as Nunez started to make some significant money for playing football following his transfer to Almeria, he kept his promise to his parents, and invested the money in a house for his family in Artigas. His father, mother, and brother were overjoyed with emotion.

    He also bought a car for his parents later as he progressed in his career.

  13. A bumpy start at Benfica before turning into a superstar

    A bumpy start at Benfica before turning into a superstar

    Nunez’s integration into the Benfica squad was not straightforward. Despite adapting well to his new surroundings, knee trouble that had first arisen when he was 18 flared up again, and he also contracted Covid-19 that kept him out of the team.

    Still, he more than made up for lost time when he did finally return, scoring six goals and nine assists in the league while adding five goals and one assist in the Europa League.

    But it was his second season at Estadio da Luz where Nunez truly caught fire, and his confidence in front of goal went gone from strength to strength. He found the net 34 times in 41 games for Benfica in all competitions, including six in the Champions League against elite opponents.

  14. Loves a haircut and heading to the beach! 🏖️💇‍♂️

    All footballers have a preferred way to spend their off time on vacations, and Nunez is no exception.

    He enjoys walking down to the shore, and loves a jet ski ride and other water adventure sports. The forward would rather reveal nature-related parts of his holiday life than show off a collection of luxury cars and big mansions.

    He's also a big fan of getting a new look, and has often been spotted posting haircuts, changing hairstyles time and again on his socials. He's got long, silky hair, so why not!

  15. Introvert, Humble and Generous

    Footballers in the modern day have a tendency to be combative, and aggressive. Nunez is no different. He's known to be quite a fiery and emotional character on the pitch, but is apparently the polar opposite off it.

    He's shy and quiet, and he has no ego or arrogance of any note. Having come from a poor background, there is no doubt that Nunez is grounded, and has not forgotten his roots, or how fortunate he is to play football.

    Monty Suarez, an Artigas-based TV and radio journalist, revealed one of Nunez's recent acts of kindness in an interview with The Sun.

    He said: “Recently, he learned that a young guy had difficulty in continuing with his studies, so he sent the money needed to solve the situation.

    “Darwin is very sensitive to people’s difficulties. He remembers everything that happened in his childhood and adolescence and is always willing to give help to the most needy inhabitants of Artigas.”