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EXCLUSIVE Why Forlan was born for United

Wednesday 23rd January 2002

Diego Forlan explained last week that he wanted to join Middlesbrough because he was desperate to link up with Alen Boksic – a player he described as the "complete forward".

Then his head was turned at Heathrow airport by a posse of United officials, who convinced him that he could learn everything and more at the Theatre of Dreams alongside another pedigree striker, Ruud van Nistelrooy.

The Dutchman represents everything Forlan craves to be; a consummate finisher whose leadership of the line binds the team.

Ambition and hunger for knowledge have been the Uruguayan's other driving forces since Independiente youth coach Jorge Rodriguez urged the ailing Buenos Aires club to sign the player in 1997.

Forlan was just 17 when he made the journey from his native Uruguay across the River Plate for a trial with the club, alongside a host of other hopefuls.

"We examined his skills and it only took ten minutes to see that he had the talent to be a great player," Rodriguez told onefootball.com.

"I immediately said he should stay. We couldn't have let him go. He kicked the ball with both feet, ran a lot and scored goals. He was the full ticket."

This is why the Uruguayan admires Boksic, and no doubt Van Nistelrooy too, strikers made in his own image – powerful and comfortable on the ball.

Like Croatia legend Boksic, whose father turned out for a local side in Makarska, the Forlan gene-pool practically pre-destined him for greatness. He has the blue blood of somebody born into his profession.

Father Pablo played for Sao Paulo and Uruguayan giants Penarol, while his grandfather, Juan Carlos Corazzo, bossed the Independiente midfield in the 1930s. Uncles Jose Pastoriza and Ricardo Bochini are also idols of the Argentinian club.

It was therefore a matter of family pride that Diego should cultivate good habits. "My dad made me practice and always instructed me to use both my feet, even though I didn't like doing that. Now I appreciate it as it's been very useful to me," he said.

Forlan's second manager at the Doble Visera, Enzo Trossero, quickly spotted that the teenager was adept in various roles.

"I changed his position," the former coach explained. "I made him play on the left of midfield rather than up front as he was quick up and down the flanks. He is fast and can use both feet equally well."

Forlan told onefootball.com: "I had no problem playing in that position. At first I thought I was too young to play there and my ambition was just to score goals, but I was happy to do what I was told. I gave my best until Osvaldo Piazza re-instated me up front when he became boss."

He made his debut for the Independiente first-team against Argentinos Juniors in October 1998. His first full season – 1999-00 – was not prolific but, out-of-position, he still struck six times in 22 matches.

There are few better indicators of a player's arrival than signing for Manchester United, but that does not mean to say the journey to the top has been painless.

"I had played for a while before I moved to Independiente," he explained. "I was in the Penarol reserves and also spent a year with another Uruguayan side, Danubio. I'll never forget living alone in a room in the club's hotel when I first arrived. But I always wanted to play for a major Argentinian team.

"I was used to being a long way from home as I spent time in Nancy in France. It was very difficult as I didn't speak the language and the lifestyle is different. I missed my friends and family."

In March 1997, Forlan was back in Argentina playing in the fourth division with the Independiente youth team. The reserve coach then gave him the chance he longed for.

"Raul Gordillo took me out of the youth side. I never went back to the lower divisions as he trusted me. I'll forever be grateful for that."

The manager of Argentina's 1978 World Cup-winning side, Cesar Menotti, eventually handed Forlan a spot in the first-team squad in 1998. The chain-smoking old stager also made the effort to turn Forlan into the total footballer.

"He gave me a few tips about not keeping the ball at my feet for too long," the player revealed.

But he failed to make the breakthrough. When he returned from the Under-20 South American Youth Championships in Mar del Plata and the Youth World Cup in Nigeria, where Uruguay finished fourth, he expected to go onwards and upwards. It was not to be.

"After the Youth World Cup, I thought I'd get a chance in the first division. I at least wanted to get a few games as a substitute."

Instead, Forlan suffered the ignominy of being sent back to the reserves as Menotti sought to free one of the precious foreign berths. "I wasn't talking very much with the boss. He preferred the others. Maybe he didn't like the way I played."

It was not until Enzo Trossero replaced Menotti that the youngster was given a proper opportunity to shine. He hit 18 goals in 36 games last term and netted 12 in 18 in the Apertura just gone as Independiente finished seventh.

The player, though, has taken success in his stride. "I never think about scoring before a match, I only think about being useful for the team. It means nothing if I score and we lose."

There would have been a certain symmetry if Middlesbrough had replaced one "complete" forward with another – but United are virtually impossible to refuse.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side pulled the same stunt with Mickael Silvestre. The Frenchman arrived in England to sign for Liverpool, but like Forlan, was persuaded to go to Old Trafford. "Manchester are a big club," Forlan said simply.

But he had no dilemmas when it came to choosing which country to play in. "English football has always pleased me. When I was a kid, they used to broadcast Italian football, but in the past few years, I have become a real fan of the Premier League.

"There is always such a strong desire to win over there. The teams only think about the opposition's goal. They say that football in Spain and Italy is stronger, but they struggle to win in Europe.

"I will not have a problem with the language. I have been studying English for more than ten years and that will be an advantage."

Independiente were also happy for the player to cross the Atlantic. The club is obliged to cash in on their hottest property because of the colossal pressure brought about by the Argentinian financial crisis.

European fans will now be able to see for themselves whether Forlan is the 'full ticket'.
 

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It happens, this 'Hijacking' of players. Benfica did it with Eusebio, and I believe Madrid did it with Di Stefano. But I don't know if I believe United did it. I'll wait till I hear more about it.
 

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I still wouldn't call it hijacking anyways because United pursued him first. I just hope Forlan gets his chance to shine with Man U like he did with Independiente.

I heard he could come on as a sub in the Bolton Wanderers games.

I dont know much abt English football, and I wanted to know if there are any more cups going on where he could get a chance to play.
 

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I should imagine he'll be making his debut in the league, sooner rather than later. I don't know whether he'll be eligable for Europe, but with United playing in the FA cup, and mounting a very serious title challenge, as well as in the Champions League, he'll be well used as we rotate the squad to avoid fatigue and injury.
 

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He is also quite small so i am not so sure about his much touted ability in the air, but than again some of the best headers of the ball were small like Pele, Muller, Seeler, Passeralla.
 

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is he good i didnt ever seen him plays
 

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Re: hahhahah

OwenIsGod said:
He looks like a transvestite!

NO WONDER YOU GUYS REALLY REALLY LIKE HIM:p

dirty beggars!
Why dont u go phuck yourself & leave dumb ass comments
to wherever u came from u phucking rook
 
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