Diego Lugano’s dressing room influence and force of character have made him an indispensable member of the Uruguay squad, despite his infrequent appearances with Spanish side Malaga. The central defender rarely gives opponents space to operate, while his natural authority and aerial ability at both ends of the pitch make him the perfect captain for La Celeste.
Despite making his debut with Nacional aged 18 and winning two league titles, Lugano did not hesitate to move to the recently promoted Plaza Colonia to earn more regular playing time. With first team opportunities still hard to come by upon his return to Nacional, Lugano joined Brazilian side Sao Paulo, where he went on to shine.
In 2005 he won the Sao Paulo state title, the Copa Libertadores and the FIFA Club World Cup. The Brazilian league title followed a year later, as did a runners-up medal at the Libertadores. In both seasons Lugano was chosen as the best defender in Brazilian football.
Despite enjoying hero status in Brazil, Lugano joined Fenerbahce. He swiftly became an idol in Turkey too, helping the club to two league triumphs and the quarter-finals of the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League.
National team coach Jorge Fossati had rewarded Lugano’s performances with a debut international start against Paraguay in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ qualifiers. Oscar Tabarez made him La Celeste
’s captain at the start of his tenure and, irrespective of Lugano's club form, the defender has subsequently only been absent for Uruguay through injury or suspension.
Lugano was vital during the South Africa 2010 qualifying campaign and scored three goals, the most important of which came in the first leg play-off against Costa Rica. As captain, the centre-back hoisted the 2011 Copa America aloft and has been one of the pillars of the Uruguay side during the Brazil 2014 qualifiers, netting twice so far.