Goodbye Diego Forlan, you were something special: Fans turn out in force for Uruguayan’s last game for Kitchee
The 2010 World Cup Golden Ball winner enjoys the perfect send-off as the HK Premier League champions beat Yuen Long 2-0 at Mong Kok Stadium
Carrying a bouquet of roses on Mother’s Day in one arm and his infant daughter, Luz, in the other, Diego Forlan seemed to have his hands full, but it was reward for a job well done.
Moments earlier he walked through a guard of honour of Kitchee players, exchanging hugs, high-fives and even slaps on the back at the end of the BOC Hong Kong Premier League match, which saw champions Kitchee defeat Sun Bus Yuen Long 2-0 thanks to late goals from Paulo Carreiro and Fernando Azevedo.
Then came the piece de resistance: Forlan lifting the Premier League trophy high in the air as his teammates celebrated around him.
Watch: All of Diego Forlan’s goals for Kitchee
It turned out to be a fairy tale ending to one of the biggest soccer names to have ever graced the game in Hong Kong.
The 38-year-old Forlan played the first 56 minutes of the match, his trademark free kick just wide of the target, but he helped Kitchee to another win that took them to 50 points and maintained their unbeaten record for the season.
It was the perfect send-off for the former Uruguay star. Forlan said his goodbyes to his latest club on the latest journey to an extraordinary career. More than 2,200 fans saw Forlan play his last game for Kitchee and Hong Kong while the club put the icing on the cake having won back-to-back Premier League titles, their ninth at the top flight, last month.
The former Atletico and Manchester United star received a standing ovation from his fans and gave a short speech on the pitch, thanking Hong Kong for the four “memorable” months here.
“It was very nice playing here and I will miss Hong Kong, the club and the fans” said Forlan. “We achieved the goal as we are now the champions and there are also two more finals for the club [to look forward to]. It would be difficult but I think we can do it.”
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Since arriving in early January, he has put Kitchee on the world map. Few outside had heard of Kitchee before then and it might be years before a player of Forlan’s calibre sets foot in Hong Kong again.
The likeable Uruguayan, meanwhile, didn’t rule out extending his playing career despite his advancing age.
“At the moment I don’t have any clue as to what I am going to do. It all depends on whether I have another offer. Let’s see,” said Forlan, who took Uruguay to the World Cup semi-finals in 2010.
“I am going to the World Cup finals in Russia for commenting and after that I don’t know.”
Forlan, who also played in Japan and India, said it would be difficult to give any advice to Hong Kong soccer.
“There are many people here who are working in the organisation and who are doing a good job. I have only come here as a player,” he said. “They are trying to do their best so that Hong Kong soccer can keep going and keep improving.”
Kitchee president Ken Ng Kin said the club was on the look out for more marquee players for next season to replace the World Cup hero.
“We were quite happy with Forlan’s performance both on and off the field over the past four months and we’ll try to get more quality players for next season,” said Ng.
Meanwhile, Tai Po finished second in the League after defeating Pegasus 2-1 and will join Kitchee as the second team from Hong Kong for the regional club competition.