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Forlan’s fond memories of Leeds
That´s what happened to me on Monday after interviewing Diego Forlan, whose face lit up when I told him I was from Leeds.
“I used to love playing there. I remember they had a really strong team,” he said thinking back to his spell with Manchester United between 2002 and 2004.
The Atletico frontman had been a bit stilted while the television camera had been on him, talking about his team, La Liga, Uruguay and his future, but he relaxed as we shaped to go.
“Mark Viduka, Rio Ferdinand, Jonathan Woodgate, they had strong players,” he said, “and who was the left back?”
“Ian Harte,” I replied.
“Yes, he had a great shot on him. I remember him scoring a fantastic freekick against us once when we won 4-3 there. He ended up playing for a year with (Spanish La Liga side) Levante, didn´t he?”.
I mentioned Alan Smith, and Forlan reminded me they had been at Old Trafford together for a while. He commented on the remarkable difference in Smith´s on-field and off-field personas.
The Leeds United v Manchester United clash, a latter day War of the Roses, was always one of the biggest, if not THE fixture in the calendar for the Yorkshire club, but more often than not the visitors came away with the points.
“(Elland Road) was a very difficult place to play,” Forlan said. “Leeds would always start really strong. The tackles would fly in, the fans would be screaming at you, and then we´d start passing the ball really quickly, ping, ping, and (Paul) Scholes would do something and suddenly it would be a goal. That would really take the sting out of it.
“I scored there once,” he also mentioned.
He only managed ten league goals in two and a half seasons in the Premier League and never quite made it with United, but clearly still holds fond memories of his time in England.
He still keeps in touch with Ferguson and said friends text him when the United supporters sing his name. They still taunt Liverpool fans singing “He came from Uruguay, and made the ´scousers´ cry” in homage to the double Forlan scored in a 2-1 win at Anfield in 2002.
How Liverpool could do with his goals just now.
PHOTO: Atletico Madrid’s Diego Forlan listens to a question during an interview with Reuters at the La Liga club ‘s training ground in Majadahonda, outside Madrid, October 4, 2010. REUTERS/Susana Vera.