There have been a fair few players who have worn the whites of Real Madrid and the stripped Barcelona jersey but none as high profile as this superstar.
Luis Figo was the greatest Portuguese import of La Liga until Cristiano Ronaldo turned up in 2009. The legacy of Figo was unmatched during his time in Spain. And at the centr of it is the controversial move from Barcelona to the Spanish capital of Madrid. The 46-year-old has come opened up about how a move to Real Madrid took shape after five fantastic years with the Catalans.
“An agreement with Florentino Perez”
“I had five marvellous years at Barcelona, on the personal and sporting side. But during that time, in the summer of 2000, the candidate who was going to win the elections was Gaspart and I did not trust him even in the slightest,” Figo told Universo Valdano.
He revealed that his agent had entered into an agreement with Florentino Perez before he was elected as the President.“Things were getting more serious and we reached a point where my agent had already reached an agreement with one of the candidates (Florentino Perez) of Real Madrid. My representative signed that if I did not go to Madrid I would pay for Bernabeu season tickets for a whole year, but I had not signed anything,” he continued.
“It was his responsibility, because I had nothing signed, only in words. At Barcelona they told me, bring the money and you can go. I did not know Florentino.”
As fate would have it, Perez won the election and Figo was convinced by his agent to make the move. “I was on holiday in Sardinia and Florentino won the elections. My agent and my lawyer flew to Sardinia to convince me. After, we returned to Lisbon and there I met with Florentino for hours, and so then I called my wife to tell her I had decided to sign for Madrid.”
Figo’s move to Inter Milan
Figo said that his time at Real Madrid didn’t start well and his teammates were of massive help. “I arrived in a difficult year, with new ideas, a new project after having won the Champions League. We were fortunate to win LaLiga. I met a sensational group who helped in my integration: Raul, Hierro…”.
But the Portuguese left the Spanish giants after his contract expired. He moved to the Serie A where he pulled on the blue of Inter Milan.“I decided to go to Inter, even though I had one more year on my contract at Madrid. I decided to leave because I was not playing regularly and, when I don’t feel useful, it kills. I knew the reasons why I wasn’t playing,” he concluded.
Figo was the jewel in the crown of Portuguese football. With the No.7 on his back, he terrorised opposition defences. However, Figo’s legacy in the game will perhaps be as much about his controversial move to Barcelona’s rivals Real Madrid. Portugal’s first king was Eusebio, its current is Ronaldo. In between, there was a magical winger who ruled the hearts of football fans.