AFC Champions League

‘Most expensive’ Kitchee signing Diego Forlan will get minutes against Southern after impressive first training session

Former Uruguay international shows the ‘nose for goals’ that won him two European Golden Boots after meeting up with new teammates on Saturday

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 January, 2018, 6:31pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 January, 2018, 11:30pm

Despite being named the best player at the 2010 World Cup, Diego Forlan proved he is down to earth as he kicked off his career with Hong Kong Premier League champions Kitchee.

Forlan enjoyed a long spell in top tier soccer in the EPL and La Liga, but the ex-Uruguay international showed he’s just another team member in his first practice session at Kitchee’s training ground on Saturday in preparation for his Hong Kong debut.

“He spoke to all the players in the changing room just like a newcomer and never put himself like a big shot which he should be,” said coach Chu Chu-kwong. “He is a smart player.

“But despite his friendly attitude, his arrival has inspired the whole team as you don’t have too many chances of playing alongside a World Cup star. The team atmosphere is heated up as we all look forward to working with him.”

Chu said he would likely give Forlan some minutes when they meet Southern in the Premier League on Sunday, although the newcomer might start on the bench first.

“He showed great skills in the session, his movement in the box and nose for goals are of a different class, although it still takes some time before he can regain his match fitness as he hasn’t played for a year,” said Chu. “But we don’t think there should be any problem for him to mix with the team, just a matter of time. He will get some minutes against Southern as I have already told him. Let’s see.”

Kitchee boss Ken Ng Kin also attended the practice session, apparently to get a glimpse of the player whom he mentioned as the most expensive signing under him.

“I took charge of Kitchee in 2003 and Forlan is the most expensive player I have ever signed,” said Ng. “We are happy to bring a player of his calibre to Kitchee, not only for the sake of boosting the club but also Hong Kong soccer.”

Forlan said he might not be in his best shape ahead of the Southern game but would work hard to regain his match fitness.

“I will try to do my best as I haven’t played a game since awhile but I still have training,” he said after the one-hour session. “I will use this couple of weeks to get in shape as soon as possible.”

Kitchee midfielder Krisztian Vadocz, who played together with Forlan for Mumbai City in 2016, said his old pal is as good as before.

“We played together one year ago and he scored many goals,” said the former Hungary international, who also played against Forlan when the striker was at Atletico Madrid and he was at Osasuna.

Vadocz described Forlan as a “constant problem” for defenders and said he preferred being on the same team.

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“He is a constant lethal weapon and is as good as before. No questions about that. We welcome such an experienced player like Diego and he will be a big problem to the defenders.”

Kitchee’s first AFC Champions League game takes place on February 13.