Chants of “Die-go! Die-go!” thundered through stadiums during Uruguay’s spirited run to the 2010 World Cup semifinals in South Africa.
Sunday, the man with the golden locks whose goal-scoring prowess and Fabio features brought him international acclaim on the sport’s grandest stage, scored two goals to cap another remarkable tournament run and help Uruguay lift its record 15th Copa America trophy.
With 20 of its 23 World Cup players on the roster, Uruguay claimed a decisive 3-0 victory over a Paraguay team that defied all odds by advancing to the final without winning a match outside of penalties all tournament.
Voted the top player at the World Cup in 2010, Forlan was brilliant yet again, but it was another World Cup holdover who nabbed player of the tournament honors in Argentina.
Luis Suarez, whose infamous and blatant handball on the goal-line saved Uruguay’s bacon in the World Cup quarterfinals, had four goals in the competition, including Saturday’s opener. He also assisted on Forlan’s second tally.
For Forlan, the victory sealed a fate written by his forefathers:
“This title means a lot to me because my grandfather won, my father won and now I won. Three generations who led this tournament, Forlan will be the last name in the history.”
Uruguay’s team returned home at 3 a.m. Monday morning and was greeted by a crowd of 60,000 fans at historic Centenario stadium.
After an improbable run through a tournament filled with upsets and surprises — including quarterfinal exits for host Argentina and favorite Brazil — Paraguay rarely threatened to make Sunday’s final competitive. Perhaps they were exhausted from all the extra time they logged in the lead-up...or the on-field brawl following their semifinal shootout win against Venezuela.
Said Paraguay defender Paulo Da Silva:
“Uruguay won and fairly played better. Uruguay is a beautiful champion.”
The Sun of May (Sol de Mayo) is one of Uruguay’s national emblems and it’s prominently featured on their flag, but with how well the country has performed in the month of July over the past two years, perhaps a change is in order. Sol de Julio anyone?
Here’s a look at Uruguay’s run to the final...