Updated: Nov 17
One of the best forwards of his era, Forlan was quick, clever, complete and a versatile forward who was capable of scoring with either foot. Standing 1.8 m tall, he was also capable of scoring screamers which also included freekicks and long rangers. Due to his physical resemblance to the Argentine cartoon he was also known as “La bruja Cachavacha”. He has been an inspiration for the strikers that have followed from his generation. He won several individual acholades namely- two Pichichi trophies, One European Golden Shoe, One FIFA World Cup Golden Boot and FIFA Goal of the Tournament.
Forlan was born on 19 May 1979, Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay. He was interested in sports from the early days of his childhood which included tennis besides football as well. He was a fan of local club of Peñarol.
Forlan stepped into his footballing career at the age of 16 as he spent several months on trial at AS Nancy and returned to South America. He played for several South American clubs, where he scored 37 goals in 80 league games before drawing attention form European sides. In January 2002, Middlesbrough and Independiente agreed a 6.9 million pound deal for the Uruguayan forward but Manchester United hijacked the deal at same fee over a single payment.
On 29 January, Forlan made his debut in a 4-0 away win at Bolton Wanderers. He sored his first United goal in a Champions League match versus Maccabi Hafia. He scored his first brace against fierce rivals Liverpool and ended the year in style. He scored some vital goals for United from the bench and earned an English Cup, Premier League title along with the Community Shield before starting a new life in the Spanish league ‘La Liga’.
He made a huge mark in the Spanish League as he signed for Villarreal and scored some match deciders for the club which included a hat-trick against the then La Liga champions Barcelona. He also scored a brace against local rivals Levante and helped his team secure a Champions League spot for the first time. Forlan’s incredible display earned him the Pichichi Trophy and the European Golden Shoe. His goal rate declined in 2005-06 season and he left the club after 2006-07 season with 19 goals in 36 League appearances.
On June 2007, Forlan joined Atletico Madrid in a swap deal for Luis Perea plus cash. His notable performance came against Espanyol where he helped Atletico clinch a Ucl qualification spot. He also scored a hat-trick against Atletic Bilbao, which helped him win the Pichichi Trophy for the second time as well as the Golden Boot again. He scored 32 goals in his first season for Atletico followed by a total of 28 goals, including six in Atletico’s successful Europa campaign on his second season. His final contribution came in a UEFA Super Cup match beating Inter Milan 2-0 in Monaco.
He then took a flight to Italy and signed for Inter Milan but could not live up to expectations due to the success of his predecessor Samuel Eto.On 6 July 2012, after terminating his contract with Inter, Forlan signed a three year deal with Brazilian club Intercional. Forlan scored twice against Flamengo and also helped the club win 2013 Campeonato Gaucho, scoring nine goals. He was named the highest scorer in the tournament. He then joined J league side Cerezo Osaka on an 18 month deal, he opened his goal scoring account in an AFC Champions League match against Buriram United. Osaka got relegated in his first season, he started off the new campaign with a goal against Tokyo Verdy followed by his first asian hat-trick against Koyoto Sanga FC.
Forlan signed another 18 month contact with his boyhood club Peñarol, scoring 8 goals in his only season at the club.
In August 2016, Forlan joined Mumbai City FC on a 3 month deal. He scored a hat-trick against Kerela Blasters in their 5-0 win. He played a big role in Mumbai’s route to the Hero ISL semifinal but received a red card in the second half against Atk as the latter side won the tie 3-0.Diego Forlan concluded his career with a 5 month spell in Hong Kong Premier League club Kitchee. He scored an equaliser on his debut coming off the bench on the 88th minute. Forlan featured in an AFC Champions League match helping his side on a 1-0 victory before saying his goodbyes on 13 May 2018 and went on to win the premiership title.
On 7 August 2019, Forlan announced his retirement from football, one year after leaving Kitchee.
Diego Forlan made his international debut on 27 March 2002, netting his first goal against Saudi Arabia in which his team lost 3-2. No sooner, he was recognised and went on to play the FIFA World Cup in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014, Copa America in 2004, 2007 and 2011 moreover the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013 respectively.
He netted a sublime volley in the 2002 FIFA World Cup group stage and earned his team a vital draw against Senegal despite going three goals down as the match ended in a 3-3 draw. Forlan was part of the 2004 Copa America squad where his team finished third in the tournament, he scored a 35th minute goal in the 2007 edition against Brazil but missed his shot during the penalty shootout in the semi-finals as Brazil won 5-4.
On 17 June 2008, he registered a fantastic hat-trick in a world cup qualification game against Peru.
He was involved in all three goals against South Africa in the FIFA World Cup 2010, scoring the first two from long range and penalty spot. He also scored a freekick in the quarter final against Ghana in a 1-1 draw, helping his team advance through to the semi finals via penalties. He scored another long range goal in the semifinal against Netherlands, his team eventually lost 3-2 as the Dutch advanced to the final round. He again scored against Germany in the third place match as they lost the game 3-2, Forlan grabbed home the Golden Ball, Golden boot and goal of the tournament at the World Cup scoring 5 goals.
On 24 July 2011, Forlan scored a brace helping Uruguay win their 15th Copa America title and became joint top scorer at the international level with 31 goals after beating Paraguay in the Final. Forlan’s father and grandfather were also South Champions with Uruguay over a period spanning 95 years.
On 16 June 2013, he earned his 100th cap for Uruguay, match where he scored the winning goal to defeat Nigeria 2-1. Uruguay eventually lost in the semi final against Brazil, where Julio Cesar saved his penalty kick. The 2014 FIFA World Cup was his final tournament for Uruguay, at the age of 35 he started the game against Costa Rica in absence of Luis Suarez as they lost 3-1. Forlan did not appear until the R16, where they lost to Colombia 2-0.
On 11 March 2015, Forlan retired from his international duty, ending his Uruguayan career with 36 goals in 112 games.
On 20 December 2019, Forlan was appointed as a manager of his former club Peñarol but due to his poor run he was sacked just after 11 games incharge.
On 17 March 2021, he was assigned a managerial role for ‘Atenas de San Carlos’ of Uruguayan Segunda Division. On 16 September 2021, he was released after a 2-1 loss to ‘Rampla Juniors’.
Off The Field
Football fans all over the world know what kind of a sensation Forlan was. He was a striker volatile and versatile on the ball, long range expert and a deadly threat from freekicks. He was born into a footballing family, his father Pablo played for Peñarol (1963-1970), Sau Paulo (1970-1975) and represented Uruguay in the 1966 and 1974 World Cups respectively. His nickname, Cachavacha, a witch who is one of the characters from the Argentine cartoon series ‘The Adventures of Hijitus’.
Forlan is married to Paz Cardoso and together the pair have two sons, Martin, in February 2016, and Casar, in February 2019, and a daughter, Luz, in May 2017. He enjoys spending quality time with his family, holding interviews with footballing greats, attending events and ceremonies and travelling around Europe.
Back in 1991, his sister Alejandra suffered a car accident where she lost her boyfriend. Diego Maradona met Forlan’s father during that time and helped him raise funds for his daughter’s treatment. Forlan also appeared in a music video for Coti starring alongside Argentine footballer Maxi Rodriguez. Forlan will turn out in the La Liga Universitaria de Deportes de Uruguay in 2022 season after joining the Old Boys and Old Girls Club over 40 team.
Over the span of 22 years, the Uruguayan international bagged 258 goals, won several individual and collective acholades and notably scored a double in 2011 Copa America Final to help his team clinch the trophy for the 15th time, ending a 16 year old wait.
“He left a legacy in football and will be remembered forever”.