Football: Forlan restores glamour to frumpy J-League
TOKYO (AFP) - Uruguay striker Diego Forlan takes centre-stage, as Cerezo Osaka begin the new J-League season looking to claim the scalp of twice-defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday.
Former Manchester United and Atletico Madrid forward Forlan joined Cerezo from Brazil's Internacional in January, restoring a sheen of glamour to a league that had grown increasingly austere since its 1990s heyday, when big-money deals brought Gary Lineker, Dunga and Dragan Stojkovic to Japan.
The 34-year-old Forlan, voted best player of the 2010 World Cup, has joined Cerezo on an estimated US$5.9 million (S$7.5 million) a year, instantly transforming a club that has never won the title and finished fourth last year into pre-season favourites.
Cerezo manager Ranko Popovic told AFP that playing in Japan was anything but a retirement gig for Forlan, who will expect to be in Uruguay's World Cup squad later this year.