Luis Figo: “I had it all at Barcelona; transferring to Real Madrid was detrimental.”

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By Creative Media News

“I was a guinea pig,” admits the sport’s first galáctico with a trace of a smile on his face. Luis Figo was the world’s most expensive player during his prime. Over the course of 20 years, he participated in over 900 matches, earned 127 international caps, scored over 150 goals, and won eight league titles, a European Cup, and the Ballon d’Or. He also led Portugal to its first-ever championship game, ushering in a new era. He ushered the entire sport into a new age.

There is an argument that the super-club era and modern football began with Figo, who was a pioneer and guinea pig. Cobaya is his name, and his transfer in 2000 from Barcelona to Madrid for 10 billion pesetas (approximately €60 million) was the one that changed everything.

Luis figo: "i had it all at barcelona; transferring to real madrid was detrimental. "
Luis figo: "i had it all at barcelona; transferring to real madrid was detrimental. "

It was like something out of a thriller, constantly shifting, so astonishing, so dramatic, and so enormous that it sometimes seems to overshadow everything else. “I’d prefer more value given to my entire career than a single episode that marked an era and revolutionized the market and football’s mentality,” he adds, but he is also proud, which is why he has now decided to tell his tale in a Netflix documentary about the transfer. It is and was the past.

After all, he was the reason why it was so large. So here he is, sitting on a terrace in northeastern Madrid, a city he never meant to call home, discussing the transfer and a career in the game before Sunday’s clásico between Madrid and Barcelona. About the rise and demise of football’s most ambitious endeavor.

Real madrid
Luis figo: "i had it all at barcelona; transferring to real madrid was detrimental. "

Why his nation’s worst night was possibly his finest. How close he was to signing with Liverpool. Even his campaign for the presidency of FIFA. “That was an ‘experience,'” Figo exclaims with a grin. You could write a book on the subject.

He could compose a great deal of them, filled with intrigue and inspiration. The uncertainty would be where to begin. When asked about his finest moments, he scoffs and pauses.

“Fortunately, there are so many that you cannot decide,” he explains. What’s worse? Possibly losing the Euro 2004 final. “No,” he responds quickly. “We encountered something incomprehensible and unique. Never before have I felt such unity, support, happiness, and excitement surrounding a national team.

“When I first joined Portugal, we played to avoid defeat. Even though we didn’t win any trophies, we gained notoriety, respect, and status, which aided subsequent generations. Perhaps football took something from us at the time but returned it years later. Everyone anticipated that we would be winners, yet in 2016, we defeated France in France without our best player. You see?”

Kind of. Figo had passed away by then, but the idea of advancement and legacy is a reoccurring motif, as indicated by his selection of “doorways” as crucial moments: “Portugal’s Under-20 Scene Cup victory in 1991 enabled us to enter the professional world.

My first trip away from home was to Barcelona. The journey to Madrid. Attending Inter. There is uncertainty with every shift, but you always believe it is for the best.”

Uncertainty is a single word, albeit occasionally inadequate. And, fortunately? When he joined Madrid, Figo was unsure. It has been two decades since he was pelted with a pig’s head at the Santiago Bernabéu while wearing a No. 10 shirt and the appearance of a convicted man, 22 years.

The transfer was seismic, the consequences remarkable, and the success of the documentary – The Figo Affair – is evidence of its effect and ongoing appeal. In addition, Figo had not sought it out. “I decide whether I go or not,” he argues, although he concedes that his decision was influenced by events beyond his control. Unwelcome as well.

In the documentary, Figo almost appears to be the victim of an intricate heist perpetrated by Madrid presidential candidate Florentino Pérez, his agent José Veiga, and transfer broker Paulo Future.

The increasingly scared Veiga has signed a legally binding contract with a €30 million penalty clause if it is breached. “By traveling to Madrid, I was the only one who could save them,” he recalls, with a sense of pride in his reluctance to abdicate responsibility and assign blame to others. Occasionally, he claims, he has paid for his inability to say no. Why not simply tell Veiga to leave? Ultimately, it was his mess, not yours.

Yes, I am aware, Figo responds. “However, it was the only solution. I was pretty relaxed about my position, but I also had a responsibility to look out for my coworkers. But I make the decision. I am responsible for it due to my conduct. I alone decided to release them from this obligation.

A year later, I terminate my relationship with my agent. owing to the emergence of certain circumstances I responded, “Okay, I’ll assume responsibility again. From now on, your life is yours and mine is mine.'”

Figo’s life was altered. Much was made of what he got, especially financially – and he discusses the “unhappy” necessity to be self-centered in a society where “if you don’t have a status, you’re a bargaining chip, and if you don’t perform, it’s over” – but while he doesn’t linger, he acknowledges that he lost a great deal. A home. A future. “Friends I no longer have…”

He halts. “Perhaps it was for the best because I believed they were pals but they weren’t. You realize. When that occurred, they no longer wish to appear with you in Barcelona because of how it looked.” One emits a sigh. “It is complicated, but I grasp it. I don’t comprehend, but I don’t care. In the end, I have a really strong sense of friendship, so it surprises you; you suffer because you have a relationship with somebody you believe to be true, but it turns out otherwise.

“I had everything in Barcelona, but you think, ‘I’m not going to a second-rate club.'” If it weren’t for Madrid, I might not have gone. It is a challenge, a decision based on feeling valued, persuading me that I would be a vital component. It may have been an error, but, praise God, it wasn’t.

“Today, there is greater protection. Every day I felt like I was holding a news conference. That has repercussions. We were beginning a tour, a novel concept; there was competition, pressure, and cost.”

Also, the hatred. “Not everyone likes God, so how can everyone like me?” he asks, but the footage of his homecoming to Camp Nou is nonetheless striking. “My sole concern was a crazed someone causing physical harm. However, why not play football? Nah! In football, there is no need for fear.”

There is this toughness: Figo can sometimes appear impenetrable. “That is my character. I dealt with stress; it kept me vigilant. I’ve always had a competitive spirit, a “blood” for winning.

At the end of the year, Madrid has crowned champions, and Figo was the league’s best player. Soon after, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, and David Beckham joined him. He initiated the entry of a new dimension into football. Did he feel unique and accountable?

He responds, “For Pérez to win the election.” “Perhaps I was the project’s innovator, but not the club. There was a presumption. I was familiar with the president’s ideals. At that time, we engaged in many conversations. I was his symbol, his promise. I did not always know who was approaching, but I always knew the plan.

Vicente Del Bosque, whom Figo describes as “among the best individuals and coaches I’ve met,” was tasked with making sense of the situation. Managing 25 egos is the most difficult task on earth.

As a child, he realized that it is not about forcing one’s will. There were egos, as there are always egos, but there were also brilliant professionals who wished to compete and win and who respected one another’s personal space. If everyone says, “No, I’m the best in the world, run!” there will be anarchy. We had a pleasant environment.”

Despite this, an entire culture was altering, and Madrid was on uncharted ground. Del Bosque was fired, and their prosperity vanished. According to Figo, a new universe has emerged around football: image, marketing, publicity, etc. “Perhaps the professional aspect, football, was frequently disregarded in favor of rising factors. We may have made decisions that were out of step with the football because we were pioneers.”

Liverpool came with a 32-year-old player who was falling off the team. Figo confesses, “I would have wanted to have gone.” “We talked a lot. The following week, they say, “No, we can’t do that right now,” and then they sign a player.

Then they say, “Wait a few more days, we need to resolve this first,” and sign another document. I wonder, “Are you joking with me or what?” Inter appears, I travel to Milan to visit club president Massimo Moratti, and a choice is made. Inter was precisely what I needed and I adored it.”

After four consecutive titles, time expired. Why didn’t the coaching phone? As a result of these egos? Figo is amused. “Yes. because I know too many players! You know, I would like to try that. I do not know if I would be capable. Putting my football thoughts into practice, communicating, and reaching others would be my task. I am missing the badge. Similar to studying medicine, the course lasts six years. Come on, insanity!

“And I’ve always been more interested in the executive side, producing, and being an entrepreneur. I don’t sit still. Experienced players are welcome in the game, but only if they possess the necessary skills. I am completely against “names.”

This helps explain why Figo ran for president of Fifa in 2015. “This is a lengthy tale,” he grins. “Uefa proposed running for office. I could see that FIFA was crooked and run by a mafia. In the European federation, we felt compelled to act, even though there was no real hope of success – to at least take a stand, and choose a position.

“Because there were already two contenders, I was thrown into the fire a bit. Michael van Praag, a Uefa executive committee member. The second candidate was Prince Ali bin Hussein, who was the first to stand and had the support of Uefa president Michel Platini.

Uefa recommended a third candidate: I. ‘OK.’ I was their justification for not choosing between them, even though their hands were tied. One week before the election, I received a call from Zurich, inviting me to a conference to determine which candidate would continue [with Uefa support].

“Everyone met. Who believes that they should continue? And naturally “me, me, me.” We did not reach a consensus. My federation then calls. They and Uefa desire that I step aside. Theoretically, they were my supporters.”

Figo mocks. “I say: ‘I’m not going.’ I. Won’t. Step. Back. It does not matter whether I receive one, two, three, four, five, or no votes. But without the support of those who had initially asked me to run, I dropped out.

The following week, the FBI raids the Fifa congress, arrests an unknown number of individuals, and cancels the elections. A controversy. And I think, “Pff, well done!”

So then what? Could he attempt again? “I would like to continue working with Uefa, perhaps more actively and with greater responsibility.

If I have the correct backing and genuine support and realize that I can help and do something important, I believe I can contribute positively to the sport of football. If it’s engaging and I can be of assistance, I won’t say no. But I am uncertain; I do not make plans. I’ve never programmed my life. It is fated. Things occur, and then you make a decision.”

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