Forlan: A longer ISL will be more attractive

Diego Forlan spoke to Sportstar ahead of the new ISL season. Excrepts from the exclusive interview.

Diego Forlan at a press conference for Mumbai City FC.   -  Vivek Bendre

Netting a FIFA World Cup award-winning goal is the pinnacle for the biggest strikers in international football. Uruguay’s best showing was fourth position at the 2010 World Cup when Diego Forlan was upfront prowling around the goalmouth. The ace forward did the best he could, winning the FIFA Golden Boot even though his national side was fourth.

A volleyed goal by the Uruguayan against Germany was named the ‘Best Goal’ by FIFA in that event. He is also a two-time Golden Shoe winner (Villareal and Atletico Madrid) for goals scored in European football.

Forlan, 37, will make the bow in the Hero Indian Super League 2016 for Mumbai City FC as a marquee player. He has the reputation of playing in some of the world’s toughest leagues (Atletico Madrid in La Liga, Inter Milan in Serie A, Manchester United in EPL). The Uruguayan was a pro in the J-League 2014 for Japanese team Cerezo Osaka when he saw ISL on television and liked what he saw. Two seasons later, he is competing after a move from Uruguay club Penarol.

Excerpts from an exclusive chat:

Question: Name the goalkeeper you respect the most and why? Name the top three goals in your career (for club or country)?

Answer: Iker Casillas is a goalkeeper I respect a lot. He is great, played at the highest level for many years and is still performing. My best three goals are for Uruguay in the 2002 World Cup against Senegal, against Germany in the 2010 World Cup match for the third place and for Manchester United against Glasgow Rangers in the Champions League.

You mentioned about watching the Indian Super League matches on TV in Japan, playing for Cerezo Osaka in the J-League (2015). Is the money offered by ISL teams attractive enough to interest J-League players in future?

Of course, the offer is an important part. It is also important to know if the league is going to be longer. If it's a longer league, it's certainly going to interest me and a lot of other players. However, if the ISL is going to run for 5-6 months or more, I would suggest the organisers to figure out an alternative housing solution. Living in a hotel for 5-6 months will not be ideal.

Japan and South Korea qualify for FIFA World Cup on a regular basis, but players from these two nations are not seen in ISL so far. Do you think a longer duration competition will be attractive for them?

Like I said, there are two key factors — the duration of the tournament and an alternate plan for players' housing. A longer league will be an attractive prospect not just for Japanese and South Koreans but for most pro footballers across the world.

The 2002 World Cup saw you and Mumbai City FC head coach Alexandre Guimaraes taking part (you as a player making your WC debut and him as Costa Rica national team coach). Any memorable moments from WC 2002?

The goal I scored against Senegal. We were trailing 0-3 and then came back to make it 3-3. We almost won in the last minute, but did not score and so did not qualify for the next round.

You scored a few spectacular goals in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The volleyed goal against Germany was rated the ‘Best Goal’ of that World Cup. Can you describe how the goal happened?

It was a quick move on the right side involving Arevalo Rios (later Uruguay captain) and Luis Suarez (currently with FC Barcelona ). Arevalo saw me outside of the box and crossed. The ball was coming high so I tried to hit it as well as I could.

You excelled as a pro for clubs in Spain (Atletico Madrid), Italy (Inter Milan), England (Manchester United), Brazil (Internacional) and made an impact in each football playing nation. Germany, against whom you struck a wonder goal, is missing in your CV. Any reason for giving the Bundesliga a miss?

It wasn't that I rejected the Bundesliga. Had there been an offer, I would have considered it, but there wasn't any.

When you are wearing the Uruguay jersey and walking out to play on the football pitch, what changes happen inside (emotionally)? Is your mindset different from a must-win club game for Atletico Madrid, for example?

Yes it changes. It’s different, you play for your country, your family, friends, people that you know, so it’s totally different.

Luis Suarez, another quality striker from Uruguay, is a fighter, always looking to dominate defenders and score. How can a coach bring out the best in such competitive characters?

I don’t know, I’m not a coach at the moment, but am studying to become one. In the future, if I’m a coach, I can answer that question.