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Forlán aiming to maintain upward curve

Club Atlético de Madrid's match-winner in the UEFA Europa League final and the winner of the Golden Ball at the FIFA World Cup, Uruguay striker Diego Forlán is riding the crest of a wave.

Diego Forlán considers his task in Monaco
Diego Forlán considers his task in Monaco ©Getty Images

After hitting both of Club Atlético de Madrid's goals in the UEFA Europa League final defeat of Fulham FC, Diego Forlán carried his form into the FIFA World Cup, scoring five goals for Uruguay to be named the tournament's best player.

Atlético's triumph in the Hamburg showpiece was the perfect ending to a campaign which started slowly, resulting in Quique Sánchez Flores replacing Abel Resino as coach. Forlán views Atlético's first appearance in the UEFA Super Cup as a chance "to build on our success last season" and the ideal way to boost confidence ahead of the new campaign.

You enjoyed a fine summer at the FIFA World Cup, where you showcased your ability to the world. How was it to receive the Golden Ball?

Diego Forlán: It was amazing. It was never my objective at the World Cup to win a personal accolade, because I was there to do my best for my country, but I was very honoured. I thought, as a striker, I might have a chance of getting the Golden Boot, but winning the Golden Ball was a feeling words cannot describe. It's an award for the success Uruguayan football is enjoying right now and I feel very proud of it.

Not many people expected Uruguay to perform so well at the World Cup, but you defied the odds. What was the team spirit like?

Forlán: We always believed in ourselves. From day one we said we should take it step by step. Although France went on to have a difficult World Cup, our draw against them gave us a lot of confidence and we built from there. We have a good team and the way we performed in South Africa proved it.

Atlético had a slow start to last season but you managed to recover and achieve great things. How important will a good start to the season be in order to achieve your targets this year?

Forlán: A good start is very important because we want to build on our success last season. If possible, we want to win the UEFA Super Cup as that would give us an incredible confidence boost. With a good start players can relax a bit more and aren't so anxious throughout the season. We had the opposite last term, we started very badly, and it meant we were always playing catch up. We eventually won the Europa League, so it was a good season in the end, but we know we must improve.

What do you hope to achieve this season?

Forlán: We want to defend the Europa League title, that's for certain. We know we have a team capable of qualifying for the Champions League so that is another target, but in the short term the Super Cup is our aim. It's good to be ambitious, but we need to take each game as it comes before we get carried away, so for now we want a good start to the season and we'll take it from there.

With your World Cup commitments, you had a very long season. Are you looking forward to getting back on the pitch with Atlético?

Forlán: Definitely, I cannot wait. Football is my life and I am really looking forward to the new season. Last year was very hard for me physically, I played almost 70 games, but after my holiday I feel refreshed and my body has recovered. I love playing and I am eager to get back out there to perform for my club.

People in England remember you for having a difficult spell at Manchester United FC, but since leaving Old Trafford you have consistently scored goals.

Forlán: In England I didn't play the amount of games I would have liked, but my scoring record was still good. Professionally, it was a good experience to play for a club like Manchester United and it has helped me throughout my career. My relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson has always been good and we still keep in touch. He is a good person and a great manager who I respect a lot.

You scored twice in the UEFA Europa League final to help Atlético lift the trophy. During the tough times in your career, did you ever imagine you would one day be scoring the winning goal in a major European final?

Forlán: As a professional, you always dream of playing in the big games, so to play in the final last season was something amazing for me. I scored the two goals, but we won as a team. We worked very hard to get to the final, everyone played their part and it was a great feeling. I think every player goes through difficult moments in their career, but what defines you is how you overcome them. You need your family and friends to support you, and whenever I have needed them they have been there for me.

What is it like playing alongside Sergio Agüero?

Forlán: He is a great player. We have been playing together for a long time now and we have a great connection on the pitch. We also have a good relationship off the pitch which is important and he is a very nice person. In my opinion he is one of the best players in Europe.

There is a strong South American influence in Spanish football. What are the differences you have noticed between playing in South America and Spain?

Forlán: In Europe the game is much faster. You have think on your feet as defenders close you down very quickly and give you no time on the ball. It can be difficult for some South Americans when they first come here as the game is so different. You have to learn quickly if you want to succeed.

Your performances in recent years make you one of the most coveted strikers in Europe. How does this make you feel?

Forlán: I'm in a great moment of my career and I just want to keep achieving things for club and country. I never worry about personal achievements, but it is always nice to hear people say good things about me. I hope it continues.

This is an abridged version of an interview which will appear in the official UEFA Super Cup programme.