Forlan: Ole was impressed with my work ethic
Cult hero Diego Forlan is the guest on this week's UTD Podcast, and he shared some great stories about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer complimenting him in training and how Ruud van Nistelrooy's wish got him so angry he scored.
Uruguayan centre-forward Diego Forlan, who signed for United in 2002, became a cult hero after his two goals against Liverpool at Anfield later that year. However, settling into life in Manchester, after his transfer from Independiente, proved to be a challenge for the forward.
“When I arrived there, and I still tell this now sometimes, I always had a good technique with the ball. But my control with the ball wasn’t as good as it would become later on in Manchester,
“ Forlan said.
"It was really quick and I was having a tough time. In that moment, I said, ‘if I want to survive here, with these team-mates, I need to train hard and do things!’ I remember the pitch with the walls at the side and I would get a big bag of balls, hitting the ball at the wall, trying to control it and hit it on target. I was trying to survive in that moment, which was really difficult for me.
‘Imagine what I can feel in that moment!’Video
The Uruguayan's attitude impressed fellow striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“One day, Ole came to me and said ‘I train really hard, but I never saw someone that can train more than me!’ I was really happy because of that!”
Competition for places was hard up front for Sir Alex Ferguson, with Forlan, Solskjaer and the prolific van Nistelrooy to choose from. The latter's wish to play as a single striker against Aston Villa, meant that Forlan was left on the bench, although he was in form.
“I was scoring a lot of goals and Sir Alex came to me and said ‘Ruud prefers to play on his own.’ I was going to be on the bench. I said ‘no problem’, but I was not happy. I was angry: I was scoring goals. And I went on the pitch, I remember Keano [Roy Keane] came to me: he knew I was angry,” he said.
“The gaffer put me on in the last 15 minutes. I went on the pitch, I think we were 2-0 up. I was so angry when I tried to hit the ball, I remember Cristiano Ronaldo was on the side, I fell over and I got up.
"I remember seeing how I could hit the ball. I hit it with the left and it was a great strike, into the top corner. Then a second one, Kleberson gave to me with a backheel. I controlled it. I don’t remember the movement now well, I turned around and the guy didn’t know what to do. He fell down and I hit it to the other side.
You can listen to the Diego Forlan episode of UTD Podcast on your favourite podcast platforms from Monday evening.