Luís Figo had starred for Catalan giants Barcelona in the 1990s
Joining Real Madrid
In 2000, Figo signed for Barcelona’s arch rivals, Real Madrid. The Barcelona fans that had idolised him were furious and have never forgiven him. He always received a fiercely hostile reception when he returned to the Nou Camp with Real. Fans would throw things at him such as coins and bottle tops. One fan even threw a pig’s head at him in 2002!
Despite making such a controversial move, Figo continued to enjoy success in Spain. Real won the La Liga title in his first season. In 2001 he was named FIFA World Player of the Year.
Real lost the title to Valencia the following year. They did make up for it though by winning the Champions League, beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in the final.
The following year, Figo helped Real bring the La Liga title back to the Bernabéu. It was the last trophy Figo won with Real Madrid as he and his club went the next two seasons with nothing to show for their efforts. In five years at Real Madrid, Figo played 172 games and scored 36 goals.
European Cup – Portugal 2004
In 2004, the European Cup was hosted in Portugal, Figo’s home country. Portugal lost their first game 2-1 against Greece. However, they finished top of their group thanks to wins over Spain and Russia.
They beat England on penalties in the Quarter Final in a controversial game in which Wayne Rooney was sent off for England and his Manchester United team mate, Cristiano Ronaldo was caught on camera, winking to the Portuguese bench.
They beat the Netherlands in the Semi Final but couldn’t find a way past a stubborn Greece side in the final. Greece beat Portugal for the second time in the tournament and were the shock European Champions.
Finally moving to Italy
Figo ran down his contract with Real and finally moved to Italy when he signed for Internazionale on a free transfer.
He won four Serie A titles in a row between 2006-2009. They also won the Copa Italia in 2006.
Figo announced his retirement from football on the day Inter won their fourth title. He said he was leaving football but not Inter.
He said: “I hope to be able to help this club to become even greater also after my retirement. I will certainly work for Inter in the future in the club board. I never imagined that I was going to remain here for such a long time.
“What I will never forget is the love that I have received since my first day here from my teammates and president Massimo Moratti. I will never forget it; Inter have given me the chance to start a winning cycle with some extraordinary people.”
He was given a standing ovation when he was substituted during his final game at the San Siro.