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Andy Mitten column

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12 May 2010 11:32:54

Andy Mitten column

ife is looking good for former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan. Tonight, he takes to the field in Hamburg - now home of his ex-strike partner Ruud van Nistelrooy - for the Europa Cup final against Fulham. Next week, he plays in the Spanish Cup final for Atletico Madrid against Sevilla in Barcelona. Last month he scored home and away against Liverpool - which did him no harm at the right end of the East Lancs Road. To top things off, he'll go to the World Cup finals with Uruguay next month. Oh, and he's also dating one of the most beautiful women in South America, the Argentinian-born model Zaira Nara. Diego remains highly regarded by those he met at Old Trafford and by United fans who appreciated his efforts, if not his profligacy in front of goal. His 'He came from Uruguay, he made the Scousers cry' song still gets an airing, all the more so recently after his goal in front of the Kop. I've kept in touch with the Uruguayan since he left Old Trafford for Villarreal in 2005, while he kept in contact with the United disabled supporters' association (his sister Alejandra is a paraplegic since a car accident when Diego was 10) and several of his former team-mates. I went to see him several times at Villarreal, a club who specialise in enticing youthful yet fading stars to the north of Valencia to hopefully restart their career. It worked a treat with Forlan. Travelling Mancunians Forlan was frustrated with his time in Manchester, but left on good terms and didn't turn his nose up at the substantial weekly pay rise that went with his move to Spain - even though he missed English custard and orginal versions of films. And he was flattered when six curious travelling Mancunians turned up at his team hotel in a provincial Venezuelan city during the Copa America tournament in 2007. "Why? How?" he asked, baffled, before remembering that English football fans will get anywhere. By that time, Forlan had proved his quality beyond question. He was the Primera Liga's top scorer and European Golden Boot winner in 2005 with Villarreal, a feat he repeated last year with Atletico Madrid. He was bought by Atletico in 2007 to replace the Liverpool-bound Fernando Torres and his partnership with Sergio Aguero is one of the best in world football, though Atletico historically make City look like a model of consistency. "This season has turned out well," said the striker who turns 31 next week. "Maybe not in the league where we started poorly, but we are in two cup finals. We were the only team to beat Barcelona in the league and things went well for us against Liverpool. I was told that my goals were appreciated by United fans and they know that I will never forget them. I'll never forget the song they made for me after I scored those two goals at Anfield." Those Koppites in front of whom he took off his shirt to celebrate didn't seem to share his enthusiasm for his goals against Liverpool, the second of which earned Atletico a place in tonight's final. "We're expecting a tough game," said Forlan, who still watches United on television. "Fulham have done very well to reach the final, beating some excellent teams along the way, but we're confident, just as we are about wining the Copa Del Rey next week." The World Cup will follow, with Uruguay in a tough group alongside South Africa, France and Mexico. His father Pablo played in the 1966 World Cup finals in England while he appeared in the 2002 tournament. "We lost to Australia in qualification for the 2006 World Cup finals, so I just want to do myself and my country justice this time," he said. What are your memories of Forlan? Have your say.


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