Had it not been a car crash, Diego Forlan perhaps would have been brushing shoulders with the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Tennis was the Uruguayan star’s first love, but a car accident that left his sister Alejandra paralysed when she was merely 12, forced Forlan to quit the racquet sport and take up football so that he could earn more money and take care of his sister.
Alejandra, in turn, has been playing the muse. The rest, as they say, is history.
How did your sister react after you won the Golden Ball in the World Cup? Forlan paused for a while on Sunday and then flashed a big smile. “She is obviously happy with the fact that I’m the best player of the World Cup,” he maintained.
What he didn’t reveal is that his striving for success is essentially related to seeing happiness on his sister’s face and making her existence more meaningful.
Alejandra has been on a wheelchair since that fateful accident. She now runs a charity, named Foundation Alejandra Forlan, to make people more aware of the perils of rash driving. Diego Maradona had come down to play a fund-raiser for her charity in 1997. “He came to Uruguay to play for my sister,” recalled Forlan.
Did you get any chance to meet the Argentine legend in South Africa? “Just a few handshakes with him,” he replied.
On his way to his hotel, a poser was thrown at the Uruguayan: “Was it right to remove Maradona from the Argentine hot seat?” A glance was all Forlan gave before his car was lost in the busy EM Bypass traffic.