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2010 FIFA World Cup: Is Diego Forlán the World's Most Underrated Stiker?

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2010 FIFA World Cup: Is Diego Forlán the World's Most Underrated Stiker?
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

His résumé compares strongly to almost any striker worldwide, yet Diego Forlán tends to be overlooked by the media and is rarely mentioned in top-striker debates amongst fans.  Judging by his accomplishments, it is a perplexing notion why Forlán isn't considered to be amongst the world's elite.

When Forlán actually comes up in conversations, many fans scoff upon hearing his name.  Many immediately recall his difficult spell at Manchester United.  Despite his inconsistent play during his time with the Red Devils, Diego is remembered fondly by their supporters for his goals against their rivals and late-match heroics.

In December of 2002, he scored twice against Liverpool at Anfield, which took some of the pressure of his back after suffering long periods without scoring.  In January of United's Premier League winning season, his most well-known goal came against Chelsea away at Stamford Bridge.  His stunningly-volleyed equaliser against the Blues came in the 90th minute and won him more respect amongst the "red half" of Manchester.

With the imminent arrival of Everton wonder-kid Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford, Forlán's disappointing spell in the Premier League ended as he was off to Villarreal.  There he was able to resurrect his career, having tremendous personal success by winning the Pichichi trophy awarded to top La Liga scorer.  Diego went on to help the club to Intertoto Cup success, which allowed Villarreal entry into the UEFA Cup.

His fine play earned Villarreal a place in the Champions League for the first time in their history, and he had three strong seasons under then-manager Manuel Pellegrini.  This earned him a move to fellow La Liga club Atlético Madrid, where he was able to take his game to even greater heights.

Forlán became an instant hit at the Calderón, effectively replacing the departing hero Fernando Torres who was off to Liverpool.  His first season with "Los Colchoneros" was impressive, as his scoring rate was near a goal to every to two games ratio.  What was to come next for Diego was possibly one of the most incredible seasons in Spanish league history, netting 32 goals in 33 La Liga appearances.  He won the Pichichi once again, doing so without the talent around him that a club like Barcelona or Real Madrid could offer.

In 2009-10, he helped Atléti to deep cup runs in both the Europa League and the Copa del Rey.  Forlán showed off his revamped skill to English fans by scoring the lone first leg goal against Liverpool and then scored once again in extra time of the second leg to book Atlético's place in the Europa League Final.

His team came up against Fulham in the final, and he was able to get both goals in a 2-1 victory, earning Atlético Madrid's first title since 1996.  A week later, the club faced Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final, but the Andalusian club was too much for Atléti to handle, winning 2-0.

Forlán has gotten off to a solid start at the 2010 World Cup, twice netting in Uruguay's meeting with hosts South Africa.  He may further increase his worldwide regard as his country prepares for their first knockout stage against South Korea.  Diego has been linked with moves to Juventus, Tottenham, Everton, and Olympique Marseille.

If he continues to help Uruguay progress deeper in the knockout rounds, Forlán will find even more clubs knocking at his door once the World Cup has ended.  He is a supreme talent and has come a long way since his struggles at Manchester United.  Maybe now he will finally get his due in the eyes of the media and fans alike.

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