MUMBAI: The last time Diego Forlan was in India, three years ago, he played for Mumbai City FC. The Uruguayan, with his signature brown mop of hair held by a thin band, had powered the team to their first ISL playoffs, marking one of the most impressive runs by a marquee player in the tournament.
India was more than a pleasure trip for Forlan, who scored five goals in 11 matches. On his return to the city on Monday, the 40-year-old gave his two cents on the national team.
“You don’t need to have a big history (in a sport); you can still have a good team. India is probably years behind others,” the former Inter Milan striker said. “But you have to be patient. I’m not saying you have to win the Asian Cup but at least start playing against good national teams. So that the fans feel proud of the team.
“The footballing structure in Uruguay is not the same as in Europe. It’s about mentality. We’re a small country with a population of just over three million. We don’t think about things like infrastructure. We like to play. When we are on the pitch, we compete.”
During his ISL stint, Forlan played with India’s most successful player, Sunil Chhetri, and believes that if the India captain had stayed longer in Europe, he could have eventually broken through.
“Chhetri is a great player,” he said. “He went to play abroad but he came back too soon. I keep in touch with him and he was a really good player. He didn’t have too many chances in Sporting Lisbon, but maybe he could have played for other teams.”