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Luís Figo

Updated on January 1, 2021
 

Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo was born at 4 November 1972 in Almada, Portugal. He is a professional Portuguese footballer. He plays as a midfielder and winger, currently for Internazionale in Italy.

Figo was the 2000 European Footballer of the Year, the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year, and was named amongst the FIFA 100. Known for his exceptional trickery and dribbling skills, Figo is one of the few footballers to have played for both the Spanish rival clubs (FC Barcelona and Real Madrid).

His club career

Sporting CP: Figo started his career at Sporting Clube de Portugal. He won his first senior international cap in 1991. He won the Under-20 World Championships and Under-16 European Championships with Portugal junior sides, alongside Rui Costa, João Vieira Pinto and other good young players that are called "Golden Generation".

FC Barcelona: In 1995, Figo was pretended by big clubs of Europe, but a dispute between Italian clubs Juventus F.C. and Parma, with Figo having signed contracts with both clubs, resulted in an Italian 2-year transfer ban on Figo, stopping any moves to Italy. However, the situation was resolved with a move to Spanish club FC Barcelona, under coach Johan Cruijff, and within four years he became a fan-favourite, captain and symbol of the Spanish side.

It was with FC Barcelona from 1995 that his career really took off: Figo won a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1996-97, successive Primera División titles and went on to appear 172 times for the Blaugrana, scoring 30 goals.

Real Madrid: In 2000 came his controversial, world-record transfer to rivals Real Madrid, which only intensified the great animosity between the two clubs. The move caused outrage among Barcelona fans and many others baulked at the €65M or £38m fee. Figo justified the investment helping Real Madrid winning the Primera División title and UEFA Champions League semi-finals as well as winning the FIFA World Footballer of the Year award. In 2001-02, he went one better, playing through injury against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League final as Madrid prevailed 2-1. Figo also occupied a major role as Madrid won the 2003 Spanish title, scoring ten times. The success made up for the disappointment of a Champions League semi-final loss to Juventus, but the next season, despite Figo's nine league goals, Madrid finished fourth and lost in the Champions League last eight and Copa del Rey final. He went from being one of the most cherished players in Catalonia to being the most hated. There was a short-lived website, AntiFigo.com, devoted to insulting "Judas Figo".

He struck four goals in the Champions League group stage in 2004-05 but it was another mixed campaign for Madrid, coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo had a fall-out with Figo after he relegated the Portugal International to the bench for the second half of the 2004-05 Primera Liga season and David Beckham was moved to the right. On 01/16/2005, he injured Zaragoza's César Jiménez in a horrific tackle. Jimenez retired after two years of unsuccessful treatment for the terrible injury on his left knee caused by Luis Figo. It was widely believed that Figo would leave Los Merengues for first-team football elsewhere. During the off-season, he was linked with a move to the English Premiership with Liverpool or to Serie A's Inter Milan. Given permission to leave by Madrid, on 5 August 2005, Figo moved to Inter on a free transfer and a two-year deal worth £6 million.

Internazionale: In his first season at Inter, Figo notched up 34 appearances as the club finished third in the league. However, Inter were later awarded the league title (scudetto) in the controversial match-fixing scandal, popularly known as Calciopoli that saw Juventus stripped of the league title and relegated to the second division, while second-placed A.C. Milan were docked 30 points from the final standings. In the 2006-07 season Figo appeared 32 times and scored two goals as Inter won the Serie A title by a huge margin, achieving a European record of 17 consecutive match wins in a row.

In December 2006, Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad reported Figo would transfer to the club in January 2007[3]. Figo traveled to Saudi Arabia to sign a contract, but after talks with Inter Milan owner and President Massimo Moratti, Figo decided to remain at Inter and renewed his contract until the end of the 2007-08 season.

International career: The leader of Portugal's Golden Generation, Figo won a FIFA World Youth Championship in 1991, the same year he made his senior debut against Luxembourg, at 16 October 1991, in a friendly match, that ended 1-1, when he was only 18 years old. He has performed at the highest level ever since, making appearances at Euro 96, Euro 2000, and the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup. He announced his retirement from international football following the UEFA EURO 2004 final defeat by Greece, having won 117 caps and scored 31 goals. However, in June 2005 he reversed his decision and returned for 2006 World Cup qualifying wins against Slovakia and Estonia.

Figo captained the squad during the 2006 World Cup, leading the team to the semi-finals, where they were beaten 1-0 by France. This was the furthest Portugal had reached in the tournament since 1966. A penalty, scored by French captain Zinedine Zidane stood as the winning goal. At the end of the match, Zidane and Figo, formerly teammates on Real Madrid during the club's glory years, swapped shirts and embraced. The third place playoff caused some controversy as Figo did not start; Pauleta captained the team in his place. However, Portugal fell behind 0-2 to hosts Germany and Figo replaced Pauleta in the 77th minute, regaining his captaincy during the substitution. Although Germany scored another goal shortly after Figo's entrance, he ended his final cap for his country on a high note as he set up Nuno Gomes's goal in the 88th minute to help Portugal claw back a marker. Despite having no trophies to show for the "Golden Generation" Figo managed to bring the team to their first World Cup semifinal since Eusebio in 1966.

 

You can read more about other portuguese players here:

Rui Costa

 Eusébio

 Cristiano Ronaldo

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