Luís Figo was a Portuguese playmaker and one time most expensive player in the world when he signed for the Galacticos of Real Madrid.
He is also a former European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year. He won several major trophies in a glittering career including the Champions League and league titles in Spain and Italy.
Portugal’s Golden Generation
Figo was a promising youngster and was part of Portugal’s ‘golden generation’ with Rui Costa and João Pinto.
They played together for the Portugal under-21s and won the World Championships.
His first professional club was Sporting CP in Portugal. Figo made his debut in 1989 when he was 17 years old.
In his final season with the club they won the Taça de Portugal which is the Portuguese equivalent of the FA Cup.
Figo wanted to play in Italy
By 1995, Figo had scored 16 goals in 137 games for Sporting CP and he was attracting the attention of the biggest clubs in Europe. He had his heart set on a move to Italy but in his eagerness to move there he signed for both Parma and Juventus!
The situation caused a lot of confusion and controversy and the Italian FA had to step in to deal with it. They decided to place a two year transfer embargo on Figo meaning that he could not join any club in Italy.
Signed for Johan Cruyff
As he couldn’t join an Italian club, he went to Barcelona who were managed by the legendary player and coach, Johan Cruyff. Barcelona won the Supercopa de España, (which is the Spanish version of England’s Community Shield, played between the league champions and cup winners) in Figo’s first season but they didn’t win any major trophies.
It turned out to be the calm before the storm because in the following season, they won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, The UEFA Super Cup and the Copa del Rey.
In the 1997-98 season, they won the double of the La Liga title and the Copa del Rey. They retained their La Liga title the following year and Figo was named La Liga Foreign Footballer of the Year.
The 1999-2000 season was Figo’s last for Barcelona. They didn’t win any trophies but Figo was again named La Liga Foreign Player of the Year and also won the Ballon d’Or and was crowned European Footballer of the Year.
He left the club having played 172 games and scored 30 goals.
Controversial transfer to fierce rivals, Real Madrid -Read more