Diego Forlán is deserved winner of Golden Ball award

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
diego forlan(Photo: Gustavo Bravo)

diego forlan

As Spain lifted the World Cup, news emerged that Uruguay forward Diego Forlán had been named as FIFA’s player of the tournament.

And after a World Cup riddled with blunders by FIFA’s officials—namely Frank Lampard’s phantom goal and Carlos Tévez’s offside strike—Sepp Blatter and his cronies finally got a decision correct in handing Forlán the Golden Ball.

The Uruguay forward scored five goals in six matches and was influential in guiding his side to a semi-final appearance.

One of the tournament’s major talking points has been ‘big name’ stars’ failure to ignite Africa’s inaugural World Cup. Guilty parties included the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Kaká—players who all departed the world’s biggest sporting event prematurely.

Forlán meanwhile, not a perceived blockbuster name, embraced the pressure which comes with performing on football’s grandest stage. The forward has always relished the big matches, something which can be highlighted by a brief glance at his record at Atlético Madrid.

In South Africa his versatility became evident. He was equally comfortable both in the lone striker role when tucked in behind Luis Suárez, and in marauding the area vacated between the opposition’s defenders and midfielders.

Forlán’s goal rush began in Uruguay’s second Group A match against South Africa. He opened the scoring with a speculative long-range effort which left the hosts deflated. He then sealed victory when he hit home from the penalty spot.

In the quarter-finals Forlán’s superbly struck free-kick restored parity in Uruguay’s encounter with Ghana. With the match ultimately decided on penalties, he exhibited steely nerve as he converted his effort.

Uruguay’s unlikely run eventually ended at the last four stage with a 3-2 defeat against the Netherlands.

Despite surrendering to the superior quality of the Dutch, in his home nation the game will be remembered for another Forlán special, his long-range goal temporarily levelling the match at 1-1.

The 31-year-old’s fifth goal of the tournament came against Germany in the third-place play-off. Forlán displayed phenomenal agility to direct an awkward volley past German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Forlán’s final contribution came when, with Germany leading 2-1 and added time trickling away, he smashed a free-kick onto Neuer’s crossbar.

It marked the final moment of Uruguay’s campaign and arguably Forlán’s last action at a World Cup. By the time football fever sweeps across the globe for Brazil 2014, the former Manchester United star will be 35 years old.

Should he miss out in four years time, it is fitting that Forlán be remembered as the star of South Africa.

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