Diego Forlan has paid tribute to Juan Roman Riquelme after the Argentina playmaker called time on his career.
The former Barcelona man announced his retirement on January 25, ending a 19-year career at the top-level in Spanish and Argentinian football.
He endured a difficult spell at Barcelona between 2002 and 2005 but excelled in Europe alongside Forlan at Villarreal, leading the club’s revival in La Liga and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2006.
Together, Forlan and Riquelme were one of the most potent front pairings in world football before the latter moved back to his home country to end his career.
The ex-Manchester United striker – now with Japanese side Cerezo Osaka – has saluted his old pal for his impact on the game.
In his column for thenational.ae, Forlan said:
Riquelme would anticipate my runs and give me balls every striker would dream of. I scored from them, often. We reached the semi-final of the Uefa Champions League that year, a great achievement for us. We should have reached the final, but Jens Lehman saved Roman’s penalty and Arsenal got there instead. I hate to think about that.
I scored 25 league goals in my first season there and won the European Golden Boot. Roman scored 15, so that was 40 of Villarreal’s 69 league goals as we finished third, the highest for the club.
At times we were like kids on a playground, full of love for football.
Forlan also had kind words for the Boca Juniors legend’s cooking skills – and especially his potatoes.
I joined him there in 2005. He was a big reason for me choosing Villarreal. We’d play together in attack, him as a No 10 providing me with the balls to score. We still didn’t know each other that well, but he shook my hand at training and insisted that I was eating at his place that night. He asked what food I liked.
I said: “milanesa” (a breaded meat fillet). He should have remembered that from the mall! I arrived later to milanesa and mashed potatoes cooked by Roman, which only my brother’s cooking could match. Roman was a potato specialist.
Let’s now just sit back and enjoy just how good Riquelme was as a player:
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