RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Diego Forlan isn’t ready to announce his retirement from international football, even though he knows that at his age the clock is certainly ticking.
The 35-year-old Forlan, who was voted the top player of the 2010 World Cup, played sparingly this time for Uruguay - each time as a substitute for Luis Suarez.
He played an hour in a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica in a group game when Suarez was still recovering from knee surgery, and 53 minutes in Saturday’s 2-0 second-round loss to Colombia, when Suarez was out suspended for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.
The loss to Colombia knocked the 2010 semifinalists out in the round of 16 in Brazil.
“I want to play football,” Forlan said. “I still love to be on the field. I know there’s going to be a generational change. That’s to be expected, and I’m 35. But I’m always willing to help and be around.”
Forlan, who played with Manchester United, Villarreal, Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan, signed an 18-month contract earlier this year with Japanese club Cerezo Osaka and is expected to fulfil it.
And he listed several reasons why he wants to keep playing internationally.
“At a personal level, the things I have been able to experience - winning and enjoying play with the national team - is more than I could have imagined,” he said.
Forlan, who wears No. 10 for Uruguay, was largely ineffective in his two stints in this World Cup, unable to make the kind of contributions needed to fill the void left by Suarez - and few could. He scored five goals in South Africa, the same number Colombia’s playmaker James Rodriguez has already scored in Brazil.
Uruguay’s former all-time leading international goal scorer - until Suarez surpassed him - Forlan was quick to defend his teammate. He was critical of the punishment Suarez received for biting Chiellini: a four-month ban from all football activities, a nine-game suspension from the international matchs, and a fine.
“I think the penalty was really excessive,” he said. “The punishment was worse than something meted out to a criminal.”
Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP