Diego Forlan celebrates scoring for United against Aston Villa.

Goal of the Day: F is for Forlan

Our new A-Z Goal of the Day series reaches the letter 'F' today, which stands for Forlan.

Uruguayan goalscoring legend Diego Forlan joined us in January 2002, and endured a slow start to his Reds career, but he would eventually become a cult hero, after scoring twice in a famous victory against Liverpool at Anfield.

He played a supporting role in the Premier League title success of 2002/03 – scoring some match-winning goals such as today's Goal of the Day, which you can see below – before leaving to sign for Villarreal in 2004.
SIGNING FOR UNITED
 
Diego made the move from Argentinian club Independiente to United in the winter transfer window of 2001/02, as part of a £6.9m deal. The Reds required support for Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – who scored half the team's goals during that term – but Forlan suffered a difficult opening to his time in M16, failing to net during the 18 appearances he made before the season's close.
 
FINEST MOMENT
 
Undoubtedly, his greatest day in the limelight came via a two-goal salvo at Anfield in 2002/03. Forlan was fortunate that Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek performed poorly on the day but, regardless, any United player that secures victory on Liverpool's turf is awarded a place in the club's folklore. The remainder of that season was played out to the strains of 'Diego, whoah, Diego, he came from Uruguay, he made the Scousers cry!' as United claimed a 15th top-flight title. The chant is still popular almost 17 years on.
REDS SPELL

Frustratingly, Forlan failed to find the net in his first half-season at Old Trafford, but he contributed nine goals the following campaign, including a stunning long-range winner against Southampton, the double at Anfield and the late clincher to dispel Chelsea.

There were eight more the following season, including the opener in our 3-0 win over Rangers – a stunning, swivelling volley that merits repeat viewings. He left at the start of the 2004/05 season, completing a United career that totalled 98 games and included 17 goals.

United Cult Heroes: Diego ForlanVideo

POST-UNITED CAREER

Forlan thrived in Spain, winning the Pichichi goalscoring award in his first season with the Yellow Submarines, before agreeing to a transfer to Atletico Madrid, where he would once more be crowned La Liga's leading scorer (in 2008/09). He was also part of the Uruguay team that reached the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where he finished the competition as joint top scorer, with five goals to his name. 
 
WHAT THEY SAID

“There was never a problem with him at Old Trafford. It was just the combination of him and Ruud van Nistelrooy didn’t work. The boy had other issues, [like] his sister’s health in Spain. He always wanted to get to Spain at some point. The only criticism of ourselves was that we sold him too cheaply. He could have been a hero. He was a great lad and a magnificent professional.”
(Sir Alex Ferguson)
 
“Diego Forlan went onto score bags of goals for Atletico Madrid and went onto be a brilliant player in La Liga, but he never scored for [almost] 30 games for United. Obviously, he scored some really important goals in the second season, but it was obvious he was a really good player. He was an example of a player who was a brilliant lad, a really talented player, but he just needed to play at a different club in a different environment to excel.”
(Gary Neville)

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