The Uruguayan striker wasn’t prolific at Old Trafford by any stretch of the imagination, but two goals at the home of United’s fiercest rivals was more than enough to cement his status as a cult hero amongst the Old Trafford faithful.
Forlan, now 36, has revealed on the eve of Thursday night’s huge Europa League clash between Manchester United and Liverpool that Sir Alex Ferguson waited outside the visitors’ dressing room on that memorable afternoon 14 years ago to give him a hug after his heroics.
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“United miss him, especially in the biggest games like Liverpool against United this week,” Forlan said of Ferguson in an exclusive interview with The National. “When he led us to Anfield it was like a general leading his army into battle. There’s not much space under the stands and he used to stand outside the dressing room and shout at the referee or even Liverpool players.
“Or, in my case, wait to give me a hug after I’d scored twice and we beat Liverpool.”
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Forlan added: “It was a happy end to a 2002 which had started with Sir Alex calling me in Argentina to sign me from Independiente. I could not understand him properly because he was speaking really fast with a strong accent and I’d been taught English by people who spoke with clear accents, but I understood: ‘We want you. You can be a great player for us. Wait for us. You will play for Manchester United.’”
Forlan flourished after leaving United
Forlan scored a total of 17 goals in 98 appearances for United and left the Premier League giants for Villarreal in 2004.
It was at El Madrigal where the South American went from much-maligned striker to one of the best forwards in Europe.
Forlan was superb at Villarreal, scoring 59 goals in 128 matches, and subsequently earned a move to Atletico Madrid in 2007.
The Uruguayan took his game to a whole new level at the Vicente Calderon, where he lifted the Europa League trophy in 2010. In the same year, he won the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball award in South Africa and finished as the tournament’s joint-top scorer with five goals.
United move came a little too early for Forlan
Forlan was a gifted striker but perhaps moved to England a little too early in his career.
Had he moved to Spain from Independiente first and then on to Manchester United, the Red Devils may have seen the best of him.
But he will always have those two goals against Liverpool - and United fans will always love him for it.
Will Manchester United beat Liverpool over two legs in the Europa League? Have your say by leaving a comment below.