Diego Forlan has spoken to the official website about his time at Manchester United. After Dimitar Berbatov scored a hattrick against Liverpool yesterday, Forlan was asked how well he remembered the two goals he scored at Anfield in 2002.
“Very clearly,” Forlan responded. “They came at a difficult time for me. I was not playing so much and hardly playing in the big games. I didn’t feel like a footballer. I was training, but not playing. At the start of my time at United I was OK about sitting on the bench or even in the stands, but then I wanted to be playing 90 minutes. That game against Liverpool was one time I played a full game. It was not an easy game to start in and the first half was difficult, I didn’t see much of the ball. Part of me was thinking that I was going to be substituted, but it all changed in the second half. Gary Neville was the first to come up to me after the game as we celebrated. He looked me in the eyes and said, “They’ll never forget you here after that.” I always remember that. I knew there was a big rivalry, but I didn’t fully understand it. I was a guy from Montevideo, how would I? But I began to understand the importance after that, by the reaction of the players and the travelling fans behind the goal. And Gary was right.”
Diego Forlan has scored at the World Cup quarter and semi-finals, in the final of the UEFA Cup, as well as scoring bags full of goals in Spain in the league, but he still ranks his goals at Anfield as some of the best.
“They’re among the best,” he said. “It doesn’t get much better than scoring twice for Manchester United at Anfield. I’ve worked hard and been lucky since I left United. I won the Pichichi [Spain’s top goalscorers’ award] twice and the European Golden Boot too. With Uruguay, we reached the semi-final of the World Cup which was fantastic for us. We’re a small country of 3.5 million people. We’re like Wales, Scotland or Ireland. Can you imagine them reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup? But none of those achievements earned me a special song like scoring at Anfield did!”
He was then asked how it felt to still have his name sung by United fans, as it was yesterday at Old Trafford.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “The first time it happened was just after I left. I wasn’t sure how the fans would be with me because my time at United was not perfect. By 2005, I needed to play every week and feel like a footballer. The gaffer understood that. A few months later, I was watching United against Liverpool with my brother at home near Villarreal. And we heard the song [sings]: “He came from Uruguay, he made the Scousers cry.” We just looked at each other as if to say, ‘Are we hearing the same thing?’ He was as happy as me and we smiled for the rest of the game. I try and watch United and I’ll often see games in a hotel somewhere in Spain, waiting to play. Sometimes I hear them sing and the team-mate I am rooming with will say, “What are you smiling for?” Then I’ll explain. They can’t believe United fans still sing my name so long after I left.”