The impact Forlan had on Cavani
Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani has been describing how he idolised Diego Forlan, when he was a young player learning the game in Uruguay.
Forlan is in the news again at the moment, having been named in the squad for the Legends of the North game between ex-players of United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in May.
Diego, who is eight years Cavani’s senior, retired from football in 2018 after a hugely successful career spanning two decades.
In addition to becoming United’s first-ever Uruguayan player when he signed in 2002, Forlan won two European Golden Boots, one at Villarreal, the other at Atletico Madrid, and was also named the 2010 World Cup’s best player, having helped the South Americans to a first semi-final in 40 years.
That was Cavani’s first tournament with the two-time champions and he was delighted to have the opportunity to play with and learn from Forlan, having seen Diego establish himself as one of Europe’s most feared strikers.
“Yes, I was fortunate enough to have played alongside Diego,” said Cavani of his former team-mate. “For those of us who were starting out our development as players, seeing players like Diego who had already made a name for themselves in the football world was just fantastic!
“Because they were the kind of players who, back home, you would really follow closely, in order that one day in the future you might just be able to be like them.
“I then had the chance to play in the national team with him, so then it was a real honour for me to pick things up and learn from him, just like you always try and learn stuff from all those players who make their name in the world of football.
“So, as I say, it was a real pleasure and an honour for me to play alongside him and, in addition, we got to share some really big moments too, like playing together in big qualifying matches and then World Cup finals in South Africa.
“It was really special, and they were really great memories which will stay with me forever, as part of my life and my career.”
Diego had several memorable moments during his spell at Old Trafford, not least a matchwinning double at Anfield in December 2002.
With regular game-time hard to come by due to the presence of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it’s fair to say that Forlan only blossomed into a lethal goal-getter after moving to Spain in 2004.
So what will younger fans and those who aren’t au fait with that period in his career see from Diego – who is still only 42 – when he takes to the Theatre of Dreams pitch in a couple of months’ time?
“What they can expect to see on display is a high level of skill and great touch, because Diego was a player who was blessed with a really exquisite technique and ability to strike the ball, and that was either foot, both right and left,” Edinson replied.
“In fact, you wouldn’t be able to tell which was his preferred side, because he would shoot with either foot with an incredible amount of skill.
“So, I think this is what they are going to be able to see from him, they’ll spot the skill he displays in being totally two-footed.”