Diego Forlan met his former Manchester United teammates in the hotel lobby on Friday morning, but while Dwight Yorke, Quinton Fortune and Bojan Djordjic have become ambassadors for the club, the Uruguayan continues as a professional footballer - one who is here to try and add an Indian Super League (ISL) trophy to his Copa America, Pichichis, European Golden Shoe and the 2010 World Cup’s Golden Ball titles.
The first step towards that will be taken on Saturday when Forlan’s Mumbai City FC take on Atletico de Kolkata in the away leg of their semi-final. “A whole new tournament begins tomorrow,” he said. “Finishing on top after the league phase is good for our confidence. We have arrived at a crucial position in the tournament in a good position.”
A hero at the Vicente Calderon, Atletico Madrid’s home, Forlan will take on a team partly owned by the Spanish giants. “I know some of the players, having played against them in Spain and I know it will be a difficult match against a good team,” he said.
At 37, Forlan is a late bloomer and so it fits that he is still going strong while some his mates are on promotional tours. So, when Forlan spoke on the importance of self-belief, it was after having walked the talk. After all, not many are cast off by Manchester United --- where he was also referred to as Diego Forlorn --- and achieve what he did.
“It’s not always about quality. Many players may have better quality than some of the stars in Europe but they haven’t made it big because they lacked self-belief,” he said.
“I’ve been in that situation. When you are young and watch some of these stars on TV, you think they are from a different planet but when you play against them, you see that everybody has weaknesses,” he said.
What makes good players stand out is their ability to train well and stand out in crucial matches, said Forlan. From having a ‘third lung’ that made him chase balls all over the park, Forlan’s now a player who relies on his experience and reading of the game. So, once in a while he will be ghosted like he was by Stephen Pearson here but like he did in the same game, Forlan can also be at the right place at the right time to score the winner.
Crucial to that happening is the enjoyment Forlan still derives from football. “That’s all I want to do even though I know at my age it is impossible to get long-term contracts. Even after I am done playing, I know I would do something connected with football,” said the man who, like Riche Benaud and Sunil Gavaskar, loves dabbling in journalism.
Now you know why when many would have struggled coping with having illustrious footballers in the family, Forlan says he “enjoys being the son of my father.”