| Branco and Diego Forlan during a media conference, at a city hotel, on Saturday. A Telegraph picture |
Calcutta: Diego Forlan stopped being forlorn once he decided to end his days as a Red Devils extra. He opted for a move to Spain and became a vital cog in Villarreals fairy-tale like rise in Europe. After a couple of seasons there, Forlan moved to Atletico Madrid where his boot earned the club the 2009-10 Europa League title.
The real magic, however, was in his Cinderella-like rise to superstardom in South Africa. He inspired Uruguay to the fourth spot, scored five goals and, got himself the Golden Ball.
And Calcuttans got to hear this amazing story first hand. At a city hotel, on Saturday, Forlan was there to share his experiences, with tons of patience and a twinkle in his eye.
The following are excerpts
The goal he rates as his best in the World Cup
The goal against Germany. That was my best. All the goals I scored were important and gave me joy and happiness. But the goal against Germany was really good.
[Forlan connected acrobatically with Egidio Arevalos cross on the edge of the box, sending the ball into the rain-sodden turf and back up past Butt.]
On whether he was surprised at winning the Golden Ball
Not really. I was upbeat. I knew some of the contenders (Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Wesley Sneijder) were playing in the final, but still I felt I was in with a chance. And I was proved right.
Missing out on the Golden Boot
I have won the Golden Boot in Europe (during his days with Villarreal). Even though all of us scored the same number of goals, Fifa decided to give it to (Thomas) Mueller and I totally agree with that. But then the Golden Boot is for the best striker. And the Golden Ball is for the best player.
On whether recognition on the world stage had come a bit late…
I never played for recognition. I play football for joy. I play to score goals… to help my team win. Ive kept on working hard and will continue to do so. I dont think about when and where recognition will come. I just want to keep on enjoying the game.
Luis Suarezs handball against Ghana
He did stop the ball with his hand and was shown the red card. Ghana got a penalty but they missed it. This is football and there are rules. The referee went by the rules. I dont find anything wrong with what Suarez did.
Lack of quality players in Uruguay…
I dont agree with that. I simply dont. We are a nation of three million only. Still, just run a check how many Uruguayans are playing in top European leagues. We do have a lot of quality players.
Football becoming more of a coachs game
Look, technology has made rapid strides and football is becoming more and more tactical. Its not easy these days to score at will. Everybody knows what your next move will be. So you have to innovate at that moment. Thats the beauty of the game.
On Diego Maradona
Hes played a big role in my life. Everybody knows about it. How he helped my family when my sister (Alejandra) got paralysed following an accident. He is my idol. But I havent been able to talk to him after winning the Golden Ball.
[A 12-year-old Forlan decided to switch from tennis to football so that he could earn enough money for her treatment. And then Diego Maradona, who was a friend of Forlans father Pablo, stepped in to help the family out with an undisclosed amount. Later, when Forlan went to play for Independiente, Maradona alerted his contacts in Europe and Manchester United snapped up the striker].
On EPL and his decision to move to Spain…
The English Premier League is tough. All big names play in the EPL. But then I wasnt getting enough chances to play. If in one match I played 10 minutes, in the next may be a minute. The reason I left for Spain was simply because I wanted more match-time. I went to Villarreal, had a great time and now I am really enjoying my stint at Atletico Madrid.
Whether he will update his autobiography Uruguayo after a fantastic 2010 World Cup
Oh! Thats very popular in Spain and back home. Its my story. Of how a kid becomes a footballer. But for the time being I have no plans to update it. Let it be like it is.
If he had any idea about India
Not really. But I knew cricket is very popular in this part of the world.