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Forlan powers Uruguay’s dreams

sports Updated: Jul 06, 2010 02:09 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Even if occasionally, he was a rare star who twinkled when France and Uruguay played their opener here. Twenty-four days later, Holland will definitely be hoping he is anonymous at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town. See more

The most famous Diego of them all has gone home and Uruguay skipper Diego Lugano is certain to miss Tuesday’s semi-final against Holland due to injury. But the World Cup’s first semi-final offers Diego Forlan a chance to stamp his presence among the all-time greats.

The 31-year-old been the highest scorer in the La Liga twice and it was his brace against Fulham that fetched Atletico Madrid the Europa Cup last May. He is perhaps the one player off-loaded by Manchester United who didn’t walk into a football sunset even though they called him Diego Forlorn in England. Manchester United are said to be interested in him again.

Underrated striker

But all this doesn’t qualify Forlan to be mentioned in conversations about the world’s best strikers. And when commercials hyping the global game before World Cups happen, the striker with flowing golden locks is conspicuous by his absence.

Living in the shadow of Real Madrid and playing for Uruguay aren’t prerequisites to being in the public eye but those who know Forlan’s pace, work rate, ability with both feet, the accuracy with which his free-kicks arrow into goal — look no further than the quarter-final against Ghana — and the ability to make a final pass treat him with a lot of respect.

Johnny Heitinga belongs to that group. He is also a friend and a former club mate so the Dutch defender knows what he is up against. Sky Sports quoted Heitinga as saying that he’s already sent Forlan a text about the semi-final being “one hell of a match.”

Club or nation? Forlan’s equally good

“He is a god both at Madrid, as well as with Uruguay and this World Cup proves it… It is imperative not to allow him time to shoot even from distance, because he possesses one of the best shots on the planet,” said Heitinga.

Forlan’s double against South Africa punctured hopes of the home team upholding tradition and making it to the second round. Like Holland’s Wesley Sneijder, it was his second straight Man-of-the-Match award of the finals. Like his opponent on Tuesday, Forlan too has three bongos they give as MoM prizes.

“We are lucky to have a footballer with the experience and ability he has and the ability to help the team,” said Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez. A natural leader is what midfielder Alvaro Fernandez called him.