The spearhead of the Uruguay side, Diego Forlan is at the peak of his footballing powers and has the opportunity at South Africa 2010 to strengthen his position as one of the foremost strikers in the game today.
Nicknamed Cachavacha because of his likeness to the Argentinian cartoon character of the same name, over the years Forlan has forged a reputation as a technically gifted centre-forward and deadly finisher. As well as being two-footed, he is also a genuine threat in the air and rarely gives his markers much in the way of respite.
Though he played tennis up to the age of 14, the Atletico Madrid striker has always had football in his blood. His father Pablo represented Uruguay at two FIFA World Cup™ finals, England 1966 and Germany 1974, while his maternal grandfather Juan Carlos Corazzo was national coach at Chile 1962.
A lifelong Penarol fan, Forlan played for the club’s youth teams and also ran out for Danubio before crossing the border to join Independiente of Argentina when he was only 17. His top-flight debut came in October 1988 under the much-admired Cesar Luis Menotti.
A handsome return of 40 goals in 91 games for El Rojo had another famous coach in Sir Alex Ferguson tracking his progress. But after moving to Manchester United in early 2002, the Uruguayan sharpshooter failed to match expectations, scoring just 17 goals in 98 appearances for the club, though he did pick up three league winners’ medals in the process.
A move to Villarreal of Spain followed in August 2004, and he quickly recovered his goalscoring touch. He struck 25 goals in his first season, ending the campaign as La Liga’s top scorer and also taking receipt of the European Golden Shoe.
After two more successful seasons with the men in yellow, the UNICEF ambassador signed on the dotted line for Atletico Madrid, where he continued his goalscoring exploits, plundering 23 in 2007/08 and another 35 the following season, in which he once again came out on top as the leading marksman in both Spain and Europe.
His first taste of major international action with La Celeste came at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Nigeria 1999, where he started all seven games and scored one goal as Uruguay claimed fourth place.
Victor Pua promoted him to the senior team for the March 2002 friendly with Saudi Arabia, Forlan hitting the back of the net in his side’s 3-2 defeat. A few months later he appeared at Korea/Japan 2002, his first FIFA World Cup finals, scoring a goal in his only game, the 3-3 draw with Senegal, a result that sealed Uruguay’s group-phase exit.
Forlan has been an undisputed first-choice since then. Despite his six goals in 16 appearances in the Germany 2006 qualifiers, Uruguay fell short of the finals. The blond-haired front man was just as effective in the South Africa 2010 campaign, top-scoring with seven goals in 13 outings, providing yet more proof that his finishing prowess remains undiminished.