Diego Forlan dedicated his Fifa Golden Ball award for the outstanding player at the World Cup to his Uruguay teammates. The Atletico Madrid striker scored five goals, including a couple of stunners against South Africa and Germany, as Uruguay exceeded expectations to reach the semi-finals before losing the third-place play-off 3-2 to Germany.
Forlan finished in a four-way tie with Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder and David Villa for the Golden Boot with five goals - an award Muller took on a tie-break thanks to having more assists. However, Forlan beat them to the Golden Ball and said he was stunned at the accolade. "It's as great as it is unexpected," Forlan told www.fifa.com. "I never even imagined something like this, nor did I have my sights set on it.
"As I'm a striker, I perhaps could have seen myself chasing the Golden Boot, and in fact I came close. That would have been more normal. But to go from that to winning the prize for the best player ? "I'm enjoying it and I'm delighted, but I'm very aware that it's the result of the spectacular tournament the team has had. It's another reward for this positive period for Uruguayan football." Shortly after learning of his award, Forlan's Uruguay teammates charged into the striker's room to congratulate him before throwing him into the hotel swimming pool in celebration.
Forlan, 31, said: "It was incredible how they all came to my room to congratulate me. The fact that my teammates and a lot of people back home in Uruguay pinned their hopes on me, and I was able to repay that faith out on the pitch while being just another member of the team, makes me feel very happy. "I'd also like to highlight those lads who didn't play much or didn't feature at all. Those guys make up the backbone of the squad and this award is for them too."
Forlan has come a long way from his difficult spell in England at Manchester United from 2002 to 2004, when it took eight months to score his first goal at Old Trafford. However, he has flourished in Spain - first at Villarreal and now at Atletico - where he has won two Pichichi trophies (for the league's top goalscorer) as well as two European Golden Shoe awards, notably taking the 2008 prize with an astonishing 32 goals in 33 games. "I've won other awards during my career and I'm very grateful, but I don't let them stop my feet from staying on the ground," Forlan said. "I've got parents who taught me key values and brothers and sisters who help me stay on the right path. "Everything is the result of hard work, so I'll keep working to try and improve." * Agencies
The Golden Ball was first officially awarded in 1982 Year Player Country 1982 Paolo Rossi Italy 1986 D Maradona Argentina 1990 S Schillaci Italy 1994 Romario Brazil 1998 Ronaldo Brazil 2002 Oliver Kahn Germany 2006 Z Zidane France 2010 Diego Forlan Uruguay