Some time ago on a brick wall outside Parque Central, someone painted the Nacional badge and wrote a message in the club's red, white and blue. It's not a particularly polished effort, the letters uneven in size, hurriedly drawn and the badge wonky, the whole thing pretty rough, but somehow it is better for it. And there's something about the message, something meaningful in its simplicity. "I'll always come back to see you," it reads.

This week, Luis Suarez did.

Sixteen years after he departed as a heartbroken teenager desperately following his girlfriend across the Atlantic even if Groningen wasn't exactly Barcelona, Suarez has re-joined the club where his career began. He was 14 when he first walked in, 18 when he walked out. He is 35 now.

As he made his way to Parque Central for his presentation, a biplane flew past trailing a banner reading "Suarez to Nacional" -- the message that started as a request, one of those mad ideas that no one really thinks will happen, was now a reality. The video of it was recorded by Sofi, the girlfriend for whom he left home and the wife with whom he returned.

Delfi, Benja and Lauti, their kids, were with them and so were many more, the impact huge. This kind of thing doesn't really happen anymore. Some 20,000 tickets had been sold to welcome back the kid who made his debut for them in May 2005 and left the following summer having won the league. Suarez was handed the No. 9 shirt by Emmanuel Gigliotti, the striker who said it was an "honour" to give it up. There was a message from Lionel Messi: "I know what it means for you to go home," he smiled. A video played with footage of Suarez from years ago at Nacional and beyond, accompanied by track from the Montevideo band No Te Va A Gustar. "Come home when you want," it ran.

"I'm here because of you and because I wanted to," Suarez told the fans in the stands. "My wonderful kids dreamed of me playing for Nacional."

He had, anyway. And of course that was the point this week, or at least part of it. Suarez left Salto when he was seven, his family moving to Montevideo and living in the neighbourhood of La Comercial. He didn't know it, not until many years later when a man walking a dog stopped to chat to his brother purely by chance and without even knowing who it was, but Obdulio Varela lived just across the way -- arguably the two most significant footballers in Uruguay's history within barely 50 meters. His mum worked as a cleaner in the bus station; his dad, with whom she had separated, worked where he could.

Right behind the house was a rough, narrow path of gravel where they played. The called it the callejon -- "the alley." At one end was a lemon tree and at the other was a women's prison. To the side of that was a children's home, encased in barbed wire. It wasn't always a great place to be, especially after dark, but it was a great place to be. All the way along were workshops, metal shutters drawn down to provide goals. Or else painted posts did the trick. There, Suarez crashed into everyone, chest out -- a bit like now, really. When he joined local club Urreta, it was no less fierce.

Suarez's older brother Paolo, six years his senior, played -- he would build a successful career in Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala as well as Uruguay. So did his younger brother Maxi. In fact, Luis claimed that although he didn't make it, Maxi was the better footballer. Luis wanted to play for Nacional, the team he supported.