At 34, Diego Forlan already has his own chapter in Uruguayan football history. He holds the double distinction of being Uruguay's most-capped player and highest goalscorer of all time, and has been an integral part of the set-up throughout the reign of current coach Oscar Tabarez.

 

Hard-working, technically gifted and a lethal finisher, Forlan is known first and foremost as a centre-forward, although in recent times he has also enjoyed success in a deeper, more creative role.

 

Forlan played tennis until the age of 14, but there was never really any doubt that he would end up as a footballer. Indeed, his father played in two FIFA World Cups™, in England in 1966 and Germany in 1974, while his maternal grandfather coached Uruguay at Chile 1962.

 

At the age of 18, Forlan made his professional debut for Argentinian side Independiente, for whom he went on to score 40 goals in 91 appearances. That impressive record earned him a move to Manchester United, but, despite winning three trophies, he never quite matched his previous form and eventually joined Villarreal.

 

His time in Spain could not have been more different. In his first season with Villarreal, Forlan hit 25 goals to finish top of the Spanish scoring charts and claim the European Golden Shoe. He achieved that same double feat again in 2008/09, after finding the net 35 times for Atletico Madrid.

 

Forlan's international career began in 1999 at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Nigeria, where he scored once. He made his senior debut for Uruguay under Victor Pua in early 2002 and played at Korea/Japan 2002, his first FIFA World Cup finals, just a few months later, scoring in his only appearance.

 

Since then, Forlan has been an ever-present for the national team. He scored six times in the preliminaries for Germany 2006, but it was not enough to take Uruguay to the finals. Tabarez then arrived as head coach, but Forlan continued to play a leading role, scoring seven goals to finish as La Celeste's leading marksman in qualifying for South Africa 2010.

 

The high point of Forlan's career to date came at South Africa 2010, where he picked up the adidas Golden Ball award as the tournament's best player. His five goals helped fire Uruguay to a fourth-place finish, their best performance at a FIFA World Cup finals since Mexico 1970. And, as if that were not enough, his goal against Germany in the match for third place was voted goal of the tournament by users of FIFA.com.

 

After winning the 2011 Copa America, Forlan struggled for playing time at Inter Milan and subsequently returned to South America. He now plays for Brazilian side Internacional, in an effort to stay close to Uruguay as La Celeste look to secure their place at Brazil 2014.