Diego Forlan

Forlan reflects on time with United and Villarreal

Wednesday 29 September 2021 14:00

Diego Forlan became a fan favourite at both Manchester United and Villarreal in the early 2000s and is a guest columnist in the latest edition of our beloved matchday programme, United Review.

The Uruguayan, who achieved cult hero status at United by scoring twice against Liverpool at Anfield, left the club after two years to join Villarreal, where he became a prolific goalscorer.

Forlan writes in United Review about his time at United, his experience of training alongside - and translating for - a young Cristiano Ronaldo, and how his time in Spain compared playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world.

You can order your copy of the matchday programme for the Manchester United v Villarreal fixture here.

Ronaldo and Forlan played with each other for only on year, the latter moving to Spain in 2004 where he became the top goalscorer in La Liga in his debut season.

"The clubs were completely different yet great places to be for footballers," Forlan explains in United Review.

"Manchester is a big city, Old Trafford is huge. The entire population of Villarreal, a small town north of Valencia, would fit inside Old Trafford, but with Villarreal we did amazing things too and were very ambitious.

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"The training ground and stadium were excellent and Villarreal looked to teams like Deportivo La Coruna, who were from a small city and had played in the Champions League. We reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and were unfortunate to lose to Arsenal. We went to Barcelona and beat them. There was such a positive spirit under our manager Manuel Pelligrini, an intelligent man.

"It was a great year, my first season in Spain. The difference was that at Villarreal I played every game, which is all I ever wanted to do at United, but at united there was much more competition. Being a substitute is not the same because you never get the rhythm and continuity. I just wanted to show the player I was and that was not going to happen at United.

"I learned a lot from some of the best players in the world at United. Most of the team were world class."

Forlan and Ronaldo played together for a year at United.

To read Forlan's insight on training with Ronaldo, including how his ex-footballer father reacted to watching the teenage Portuguese train at United, get your copy of United Review.

"He was brilliant and dedicated," Forlan writes. "Quite often, it would just be him and me alone after training, doing extra sessions on those open training fields at Carrington."

Also in the programme for tonight's games is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's regular column, an interview with Bruno Fernandes, a look back at United's greatest goals, moments and games against Spanish opposition and much more.