“If he’s on top form, this team could go far. And I really hope they do.” These were the words of Pablo Forlan, the former Uruguay international who now follows the performances of La Celeste from the stands. The passion Forlan displayed for his country in his playing days is undiminished, but with a twist, for as that quote suggests he now has an additional reason to hope that the national team exceed expectations at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Father of Diego, one of Uruguay’s key players, Pablo understandably derives great pleasure and pride from seeing his son put opposing defences under pressure. The feeling of admiration is mutual, according to Forlan Jnr: “My father had the opportunity to play in two World Cups, in 1966 and 1974. It’s a real source of pride.”
FIFA.com managed to grab a few minutes for an exclusive chat with Forlan Jnr, the striker on whom Uruguayan hopes would appear to rest.
While in Korea/Japan 2002, he was new to the international stage, this time around Forlan finds himself in a starring role. “Well, the years have flown by for everyone, but this time it's my turn to be one of the older heads. I’ll enjoy myself just like I did at my last World Cup, but I’m able to approach it with a bit more experience under my belt,” he said, humbly sidestepping the suggesting that he is any more important than the other Uruguay players.
Forlan clearly believes in the collective strength of the squad, to the extent that, when asked if the team still needs to improve before the tournament begins, his response was blunt. “There is nothing to improve," he said. "We’ve got a great bunch of footballers who all get on very well together.”
It all starts now
He also gives short shrift to the idea that the way Uruguay qualified for South Africa 2010 – via a two-legged play-off against Costa Rica – is in any way relevant. "It doesn’t matter how we got here, what’s important is that we are here now, at the World Cup," he said. "We’re not worried about the ghosts of matches past. We knew that the two games would be tough, but that our qualifying chances were in our own hands."
Similarly, Forlan does not read anything into the fact that their opponents on Friday, France, also had trouble securing their place at FIFA’s flagship tournament. “How they qualified isn’t significant either – they have some excellent players, and it’s going to be a very difficult match,” he adds.