From all the eye candy I had over the past month, and there have been LOADS of B-EAUUU-TI-FUL men on the green, I must say that this guy has captivated me the most.
It started off somewhat hostile. I hated him. No, I mean I HATED him from the very first time I saw him, which was even before Uruguay played against South Africa and Ghana. But this wasn’t the average run-of-the-mill kind of hatred where the antagonist usually proves his/her assholiness in time, thus verifying and warranting the negative emotion and justifying my feelings.
No, there was more to it than that because as much as I hated Diego Forlan, I was equally mesmerized by him. His drive, vigor, determination and passion on the field are all characteristics that I can strongly identify with; characteristics that I possess myself and hold in high esteem. It’s that fiery spirit that he possesses coupled with his skills and abilities, masked by that calm and composed exterior that initially intrigued me. He seemed so sure of himself, so focused, that he almost unnerved everyone else around him.
And so I hated him for no particular reason other than wanting to rip of that hideous headband and give him a bath. My hatred, compounded with my unnatural interest in him confused me. It was Mother who put the cards on the table and suggested that I was secretly attracted to him and that I didn’t want to be, because somewhere in the recesses of my twisted mind, I don’t believe that I should be attracted to someone like him. My subconscious expectations and the idea of who I should be attracted to conflicted with my reality causing inner conflict, and I didn’t want to admit it to myself or anyone else so it was easier to hate him for it.
Mother knows me a little too well for my liking and needless to say, this revelation shocked the shit out of me. At first I thought it was absolutely preposterous, ludicrous, absurd! And when it dawned on me that it could very well be true, I was stunned, slightly overwhelmed and appalled too.
Diego Forlan turned out to be the guy that I hated because I secretly wanted him. If this was a movie, I’d be Tamina and he’d be Dastan. I was floored! Utterly disgusted with myself. My family laughed for days, like it was the funniest thing they had ever heard of in their entire lives while I felt like my body had betrayed me – how was I ever going to trust myself again?! And the reason I was so shocked and surprised by this discovery is because from all the players out there, Diego Forlan is the one man who is seriously NOT my type... not physically anyway. Firstly, I don’t do blonde. EVER. Secondly, I can’t look at him for longer than a minute without wanting to shave his head. And thirdly, that self assurance that he has in spades and uses to unnerve his opponents has the same effect on me as well.
So why on earth would I fancy a guy that a) I don’t know and never heard of before the World Cup; b) would never ordinarily be interested in; and c) plays for a team demonized by an entire continent and wears an atrocious headband during these games?
I dug around to find out.
Behind the composed, seemingly calculating figure known as Diego Forlan there is a man whose character speaks volumes on and off the pitch. Coming from a family of Footballers, Forlan decided to pursue Tennis and began honing his skills when a car accident left his sister Alejandra, five years his senior, paralysed and in intensive care for 5 months. The accident was catastrophic and left the once middle-class family with medical bills mounting to over $250,000.
Diego Maradona, a friend of Forlan’s father Pablo who was a former Uruguay International footballer, then stepped in to help the family with fundraising, making a substantial contribution to the fund to ease their financial woes. As witness to their misfortune, a 12 year old Forlan then decided to dedicate his life to a career in football so that he could make enough money to make his sister’s life as easy as possible.
“The first thing he told me when I was lying in the hospital was that he would be a famous football player and make money to get me the best doctors in the world...” ~ Alejandra
Forlan then began honing his skills on the pitch and quickly became one of the most promising players in South America. Diego Maradona recognized the potential in the young player and through his network of contacts in Europe, Forlan began his career with Manchester United, putting an end to his family’s financial difficulties. Off the field, Diego Forlan set up an organization in his sister’s name to help others in a similar plight.
“She was an inspiration to me then and she has been ever since… she is a special person with a special spirit. She helps to spur me on and I represent her on the field.” ~ Diego Forlan on his sister Alejandra
“It gives me such joy to see him perform... I know how hard he worked to get to this point and he deserves every success in the world. When he runs, he is doing it for me too.” ~ Alejandra
Forlan, who is quite fond of children, also set up a soccer school with his father in Uruguay to teach youngsters about the game and ethics in the game of football.
What surprised me most was that during his time here in South Africa, he said that he felt nostalgic in Kimberley and that it reminded him of home. Lone, dusty, gritty middle-of-no-where Kimberley, of all places! So much so that the Uruguayan Football Association has signed an agreement with the local provincial government at their Kimberley base to develop a football program in the small mining city; a project that involves Uruguayan trainers and players coming to Kimberley to coach aspiring players, as well as coaching some players in Uruguay over the next five to six years:
"We have a moral obligation," said Uruguay Football Association president Sebastian Bauza. "Kimberley was a heavenly complex. It was our home."
During the World Cup, unlike other teams, Forlan and his team mates opened up their training sessions to the people of Kimberley, who had adopted and welcomed them with open arms, so that youngsters and aspiring footballers could watch them play. Forlan spent most of his time taking photos and video clips with his cellphone, one of him cuddling a lion cub and others relaxing with his team mates and posted them on Facebook & Twitter.
This is a man that is so humble, that he even refused to take any sole credit when FIFA declared him the best player of the tournament, rightly so, and honoured him with the Golden Ball Award. He has repeatedly insisted that the Award belongs to all his team-mates, for he is nothing without them even though he is the driving force behind them.
And just like that, I see the beauty in Diego Forlan. It’s his spirit, his human-ness that makes him just as, or even more beautiful than most of the other players in the tournament. He is the ultimate Alpha-Male... every woman wants a man who's not controlling but in control. And how can we not love that?
And this doesn’t hurt either:
From all the teams, the Uruguayans first priority was to enjoy South Africa and their time here, to enjoy the tournament, mingle with the people and enjoy they did judging from the little excursions they took in between their games. They took a genuine interest in South Africa.
Upon their return home, the team was treated to a parade where despite the cold weather 150,000 people gathered to congratulate them on coming fourth in the tournament. Their success in the World Cup, after 40 years, brought renewed hope to a nation that has been struggling to find its place in the world. "Managing to unite the whole country is incredible. This was unthinkable," ~ Diego ForlanHope. Thats what everyone strives for at the end of the day innit.
PPS. And I still want to kick Suarez :P