Full name: Diego Martín Forlán Corazo
Left Atlético in: 2011
Currently playing for: Internazionale
Squad number: 7
DoB: 19 May 1979
Buyout clause: € 36m
Previous clubs: Independiente (1998-2002), Manchester United (2002-2004), Villarreal (2004-2007)
Diego Forlan has got to go down as one of Uruguay’s greatest ever strikers, and he’s not quite done yet.
At just 31, Forlan is a third-generation footballer. His father Pablo also played for the Uruguayan national team, and his grandfather Juan Carlos Corazo played for Argentinean side Independiente.
Diego started his career at Independiente after rising through the youth team, and after a successful four year spell in the Argentinean League made a move to the English Premier League for Manchester United for a fee of £6.9million (€8.3m)
The striker struggled in the physical nature of the Premier League however, and it took him eight months before he first hit the back of the net, a penalty in the Champions League win against Maccabi Haifa.
Forlan’s partnership with Ruud van Nistelrooy at United never really blossomed, and as funds were made available for the Red Devils to sign 18 year-old Wayne Rooney, Forlan was shipped out to La Liga. Although remembered as a flop at Old Trafford, he remains a cult-figure following a brace scored against Liverpool which humiliated one of United’s fiercest rivals.
In the summer of 2004, Diego signed for Villarreal CF for an undisclosed fee. He went on to win the Pichichi Trophy with 25 goals in his first season at the club. He also shared the European Golden Boot award with Thierry Henry of Arsenal, surprising fans and punters alike with his sharp instincts in front of goal.
The following season wasn’t as fruitful for the Uruguayan forward; things weren’t helped by changes to the Villarreal squad around him, but he found his feet again in the 2006/07 season and netted 19 times in 36 league appearances at El Madrigal.
This attracted the attention of Atlético Madrid, who were smarting after the loss of their captain, talisman and youth team graduate Fernando Torres to Liverpool. Los Rojiblancos were looking to nurse their headache with the reported £20m (€25m) they generated from Torres’ sale, and spent £17m (€21m) on bringing in Forlan to the Vicente Calderon.
Forlan scored 16 goals in 33 La Liga appearances in his first season with Atléti, continuing his sharp form with his new club.
The following 2008/09 season, Forlan once again picked up the Pichichi Trophy with 32 goals in 33 league appearances, with it also collecting the European Golden Boot for the second time in his career, helping Atléti qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
Not just content with personal accolades though, Diego helped Atlético to the Europa League title in the 2009/10 season, scoring 7 goals in 17 European appearances.
In the summer that followed, Forlán left his mark on the footballing world at the World Cup 2010, where he reached to the semi finals with Uruguay, scored five goals and was awarded with the Golden Ball trophy as best player of the tournament.
A year later Forlán scored two goals in the Copa América 2011 final in his country’s 3-0 victory over Paraguay, to bring the Celeste a record 15th South American championship title. Diego not only equalled Héctor Scarone as Uruguay’s all time topscorer, but also reached an unique achievement: by winning the Copa América, like his grandfather and father before him, the Forlán-family became the first to win it through three generations of footballers.
Unfortunately back in Madrid things weren’t going so well with Diego. During the 2010/11 season he had a falling out with Quique Sánchez Flores, who towards the end of the season preferred Diego Costa over Uruguayo. With honest but unpopular statements in the press regarding his future and by his seemingly sulky attitude on the pitch, Forlán lost the support of most fans, who even booed him on occasion.
After Quique’s departure and the Copa América success, Forlán stated to be happy to continue at the club, but director Gil Marín was looking to get the big earner off Atlético’s books. In August of 2011 an agreement was reached with Internazionale for just €5m, a fee that reportedly went to Forlán’s pockets as Atleti still owed the striker months of salary.
Diego Forlán scored 96 goals for the Rojiblancos during his time at the Vicente Calderón.