No one knew yet, but in the halftime of the game played by Uruguay and Senegal for the 2002 World Cup, much more was decided than the subsequent anger with which the celestial tied the game after going 0-3 to the locker room.
It can be said that those 15 minutes marked a before and after in the history of one of the teams that evolved the most in the decade that ends.
That squad that said goodbye to the Korea-Japan World Cup in the first round had two well-marked groups: the most experienced, with Paolo Montero, Fabián O’Neill and Darío Silva; and the youngest, with Fabián Carini and Diego Forlán (Montevideo, 1979), who that afternoon joined Chengue Morales in the supplementary and initialed 2-3.
“I lived with Forlán and he is a real phenomenon, I was never a friend or anything, we shared and played soccer, he doesn’t drink next to us, he doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t do anything, so we couldn’t be next to him”, confessed some O’Neill, a benchmark for a generation that later failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
It can be said that, from Forlán, the Uruguayan footballer, and all those who claim to be, have become more serious, more aware that their work off the field and their conduct in private life is as important as what they do within the field.
The World Cup in South Africa, in 2010, would mark the beginning of a golden decade where the Uruguayan team achieved, in addition to fourth place in the World Cup, a South American sub-20 after 30 years, the Copa América in 2011 and the qualification for Brazil and Russia, among other things.
“It is not that the player from before was bad and the one from now is good, but that there is more information that is being used and allows you to prepare in a different way. The footballer was always professional but he was different, I broke that paradigm, I was the person the change started, “acknowledges the now Peñarol coach in an interview with EL PAÍS.
Forlán is a true Atlas of world football. He left his country at age 17 to play in Argentina and did not stop there: England, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Japan, India, Hong Kong and, logically, Uruguay, have made him come across great players and a triad of coaches from luxury like Menotti, Ferguson and Tabárez, although in that shortlist, he also makes room for the Chilean Pellegrini, whom he had at Villarreal.
That yellow submarine that joined Riquelme and Sorín reached the semifinals of the Champions League in 2006 after walking to Inter Milan by Juan Sebastián Verón. Arsenal, the obstacle to access the final, began winning 1 to 0 thanks to Henry, but within minutes the referee whistled for the Spanish team. Riquelme, today vice president of Boca, kissed the ball, but the romance was unrequited: German goalkeeper Lehman held back, just as he would later in the World Cup against Argentina. Thus, Villarreal and Forlán were close to glory.
“The Roman prison could have given us the chance to go to the extension and perhaps access a final with Barcelona, but it is football, we were at the door twice and it didn’t happen,” continued the Uruguayan.
However, he keeps a great memory of Spain: “It was divine, my grandmother was from there and I had the opportunity to return to her country to play seven spectacular years in a beautiful place that I would go to direct in the future, if I had the opportunity “
Cachavacha, as they say, longs for bays and buildings in Hong Kong, the Spanish or Italian inns, the kind that “on the face of it don’t look good, but you go in to eat and it’s just the opposite”, and also the beaches. However, he loves Punta del Este, the spa town of Uruguay to which I would add more heat to enjoy it “much more”.
“Many former teammates ask me how I can get used to Uruguay and I reply: ‘Where do you want me to go? It is my country,” he says. “Am I going to live in Europe? Yes, I am going to lead, yes, but if I have nothing to do outside, I stay in my country, to walk on the road [carretera], go inside, see the fields, the sea, the boulevard of Montevideo; For me we have a spectacular country and the more the years go by, the more I like it, “he assumes.
Everyone is invited to the farewell match at the legendary Centenario Stadium in Montevideo. When he takes the field for the last time in a soccer uniform, he will be accompanied by the squad of the World Cup in South Africa that achieved fourth place and by figures such as Juan Román Riquelme, Luis Suárez, Edinson Cavani, Sebastián Abreu, Diego Lugano, Javier Zanetti , Juan Sebastián Verón, Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Chevantón.
Afterwards, the time will come to lead the professional team of Peñarol and, above all, teach the youngest with the same wisdom and discipline that his father, Pablo, and his maternal grandfather, Juan Carlos Corazzo, two other champions instilled in him. Copa América with Uruguay.
“We as boys used to train in a way and today children with eight or nine years have skills that we did not have,” he recalls. “At the time when my parents taught us they did certain things that are prohibited today; now we know that we must prioritize the first 1,000 days of the child, which then mark them for life, but before we thought of children from the five or six years, which is when you started to reason, “reflects Forlán, who played his last professional game a year and a half ago with the Kitchee FC Hong Kong jersey, a country that if he had the opportunity to return to work” I’d be happy in life. “
This Saturday, Forlan will celebrate a race that has “been done” and the Uruguayans will be able to celebrate their favorite team again, now without the annoying vuvuzelas.