Diego Godin is a composed and dependable central defender who is just as adept at snuffing out danger in the air as he is on the ground. His ability to make covering tackles is another feature of his game, and it was qualities such as those that made him an obvious choice to partner Diego Lugano at the heart of the Uruguayan defence throughout the recent South Africa 2010 qualifiers.
Godin’s long journey to becoming one half of one of the most formidable central-defensive duos in South America started when he gave up swimming at the age of 14 and turned his attention to football instead. Starting out in the youth team at Estudiantes of Rosario, the city of his birth, he continued his education in the junior ranks at Defensor Sporting before moving to Club Atletico Cerro in 2003, the year in which he played his first game in the top flight.
A commanding and reliable presence in the Albiceleste defence, Godin was quickly on his way to Nacional, helping them to victory in the 2007 Copa Libertadores play-off league and scoring two goals on their run to the quarter-finals of the Libertadores that same year.
His next move was to Spain and Villarreal, where he took his time to settle down before becoming a mainstay of the side, shining on both the domestic and European stage.
Jorge Fossati gave him his full international debut in a 2005 friendly defeat to Mexico, though it was after Fossati’s departure that Godin’s Uruguay career really began to take off. Oscar Tabarez identified him as a tried and trusted performer from the start, regularly selecting him for friendlies in 2006 and taking him to Venezuela for the 2007 Copa America, although he would only start one game there.
He left the bench behind at the beginning of the CONMEBOL qualifying competition for South Africa 2010, establishing himself as a first-choice in the side except when injury or suspension intervened.