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Luís Figo
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - 04/2015

Personal information
Full name

Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo
Date of birth
4 November 1972
Place of birth
Almada, Portugal
1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)

Playing position
Attacking midfielder


Os Pastilhas

Sporting CP


Sporting CP
137x apps / 16x goals

172x apps / 30x goals

Real Madrid
164x apps / 38x goals

105x apps / 9x goals

577x apps / 93x goals


Portugal U16
15x apps / 8x goals

Portugal U17
6x apps / 2x goals

Portugal U18
21x apps / 8x goals

Portugal U20
12x apps / 0x goal

Portugal U21
7x apps / 0x goal

127x apps / 34x goals 


(* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only)

Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo, born 4 November 1972, is a Portuguese retired footballer. 

He played as a winger for Sporting CP, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Internazionale before retiring on 31 May 2009. 

He won 127 caps for the Portugal national football team.

Renowned for his creativity and having the ability to get past defenders, Figo is regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation.

He made 106 assists in La Liga, the second most in La Liga history, behind Lionel Messi.

He won the 2000 Ballon d'Or, 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year, and in 2004 was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.

Figo is one of the few football players to have played for both Spanish rival clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid. 

His controversial 2000 transfer from Barcelona to bitter rivals Real Madrid set a world record fee of £37 million (€62 million).

He had a successful career highlighted by several trophy wins, including the Portuguese Cup, four La Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, three Spanish Super Cups, one UEFA Champions League title, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, two UEFA Super Cups, one Intercontinental Cup, four Serie A titles, one Italian Cup and three Italian Super Cups.

On 28 January 2015, Figo announced his intention to run against Sepp Blatter for the position of FIFA President.


He began his career as a street footballer at U.F.C. Os Pastilhas, before joining Sporting Clube de Portugal at the age of 11.




Figo started his career at Sporting CP, making his league debut on 1 April 1990 during the 1989-90 season as a substitute for Marlon Brandão in a 1:0 home win against Marítimo.

His other two appearances were against Boavista 24 days later and Belenenses on 13 May, the former which Sporting were held in a 2:2 draw, and the latter a 1:0 defeat.
On 7 December 1991, Figo scored his first goal against Torreense in the 1991-92 season, cancelling out Rosário's opener as Sporting won 2:1. 

He won his first senior international cap in 1991.

Prior to that, he won the Under-21 World Championships and Under-16 European Championships with Portugal junior sides alongside Rui Costa and João Pinto. 

He was also a significant part of Portugal's "Golden Generation".

In his final season at Sporting he won the 1994-95 Portuguese Cup.


In 1995, Figo looked poised to join one of the big clubs of Europe, but a dispute between Italian clubs Juventus and Parma, with Figo having signed contracts with both clubs, resulted in an Italian two-year transfer ban on him. 

Eventually, Figo made a move to Spanish giants FC Barcelona for a £2.25 million fee, narrowly beating English club Manchester City (who had been recommended Figo by Malcolm Allison, the former manager of Sporting CP and former coach of City), to his signature.

It was with Barcelona that Figo's career really took off, winning the 1996-97 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, starring alongside Ronaldo, followed by successive Primera División titles where he was part of a formidable attack which included Rivaldo and Patrick Kluivert. 

In total, Figo appeared 172 times in the league for Barcelona, scoring 30 goals. 

He was revered in Catalonia because his presence in a Barcelona shirt had given the region a sense of external approval. 

According to a club official, Figo's support for Catalonia meant more to Barcelona than the service of a home grown hero in Pep Guardiola.


In July 2000, Figo made a surprising and controversial $60.1 million move to Barcelona's bitter rivals Real Madrid.

There had been a buy out clause in his contract at Barcelona, a new world record fee, which Real Madrid met, and his arrival at Madrid signalled the beginning of Florentino Pérez's "Galáctico era".

Figo became the new focus of the Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry, with Barcelona fans feeling betrayed by his transfer and turned against him.

His move to Madrid was huge because he was a star player at Barcelona, reliable and committed to the cause when wearing the Blaugrana jersey.

A team leader, one of his Barcelona teammates stated: “our plan was simple: give the ball to Luis. He never, ever hid.”

Although now wearing the white shirt of Real Madrid, he won the Ballon d’Or award in November 2000, largely for what he did for Barcelona where he became the best in the world.

When Figo returned to Barcelona for the first time in a Real Madrid shirt on 21 October 2000, the noise at Camp Nou was deafening.

There were banners hung around the stadium with the words; Traitor. Judas. Scum. Mercenary.

Figo was mercilessly taunted throughout, and when he came out of the tunnel and ran on to the field the jeers of almost 98,000 Barcelona fans escalated, with a visibly shocked Figo putting his fingers to his ears.

When the game, named El Clásico, started, every time Figo got the ball the noise rose with insults and missiles flying such as oranges, bottles, cigarette lighters and mobile phones.

The regular corner taker for Madrid, Figo didn't take any corners at the Camp Nou to avoid being in close proximity to the fans.

Barcelona were victorious, winning 2:0, and Madrid’s president Florentino Pérez stated after the match; "The atmosphere got to us all.”

Madrid defender Iván Campo commented; 

“That night when Figo first went back was incredible.

I’ve never heard anything like it. 

Luis didn’t deserve that.

He’d given his all for Barcelona. 

It was built up before: ‘a traitor’s coming’, the media said. No, Luís Figo is coming, one of the greats for you. 

That night hurt him, you could see.

His head was bowed and he was thinking:

‘bloody hell, I was here last season ...’

But my lasting emotion was admiration: you’ve got balls.”

In his first season with Madrid, Figo won the 2001 La Liga title, scoring fourteen goals in all competitions.

He received the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year.

He would be joined at the club by Zinedine Zidane in the summer of 2001, and in the following season Madrid won the 2001–02 UEFA Champions League, Figo's second major European trophy.

Figo's second game back at the Camp Nou, on 23 November 2002, produced one of the defining images of the Barcelona–Real Madrid rivalry.

There was no sign of the hatred or the hurt subsiding, and every time he came within range of the Barcelona fans, beer cans, lighters, bottles and golf balls flew.

Figo commented; "I was worried that some madman might lose his head." 

This time, Figo had decided that he would take corners, as well as throw-ins, and midway through the second half Madrid won a corner. 

Amid a shower of flying objects, it took Figo two minutes to take it.

Another corner followed on the other side, and as Figo walked across he slowed to pick up the missiles and as he prepared to take the corner he moved away some of the debris, while giving an ironic thumbs-up and smiling.

Every time he began his run-up to take the corner another missile would land which was repeated over and over, until the referee Luis Medina Cantalejo suspended the game which lasted almost 20 minutes.

During the break in play the defining image of the rivalry, a pig's head, was picked up on camera, which was in among the debris near the corner flag.

Figo would spend five seasons at Madrid with his final success being the 2003 La Liga title.

In April 2013, Figo was named by the sports newspaper Marca as a member of the "Best foreign eleven in Real Madrid's history".


Figo left Real Madrid to join Italian club Internazionale in the summer of 2005 on a free transfer after his contract with Real Madrid had expired. 

This meant that Figo would finally be able to play for a club in Italy, something he had the chance to do before his move to Barcelona, but was scuppered due to a dispute between the two clubs interested, Juventus and Parma. 

During the summer of 2008, Figo's compatriot José Mourinho joined Inter on a managerial level. 

This has been said to please Figo, as he would have several Portuguese teammates during the remainder of his stay at Inter.

On 16 May 2009, Figo announced his retirement from football, the same day Inter won the 2008–09 title, and re-confirmed this on 30 May; his final game was on 31 May against Atalanta at the San Siro. 

At Javier Zanetti's insistence, Figo captained the side for his very last match. 

He received a standing ovation from the crowd as he was substituted by Davide Santon. 

The freekick he scored in extra time against Roma during the Supercoppa Italiana was his most memorable moment in Italy.

Figo said, "I am leaving football, not Inter." 

He was interviewed by Inter Channel after his last game against Atalanta and also 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."

Figo was on the sidelines when Inter won the 2009-10 UEFA Champions League on 22 May 2010.



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 on 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 1996, Euro 2000, Euro 2004 and the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. 

He announced his retirement from international football following the Euro 2004 final upset-defeat by Greece due to an elleged rift between him and national coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, although this was denied.

In June 2005 he reversed his decision and returned for the 2006 World Cup qualifying wins against Slovakia and Estonia under Scolari.

Figo captained the squad during the 2006 World Cup, leading the team to the semi-finals. 

With three wins, Portugal finished top of their group and qualified for the knock out rounds with Mexico. 

They advanced past the Netherlands in the last 16, and defeated England on penalties in the quarterfinal.

In the semifinal, Portugal were beaten by France courtesy of a penalty from his former club-mate and French captain Zinedine Zidane. 

This was Portugal's best finish in 40 years. 

The third place playoff caused some controversy as Figo did not start. 

Pauleta captained the team in his place. 

However, Portugal fell behind 2:0 to hosts Germany and Figo replaced Pauleta in the 77th minute, who handed him back the captain's armband, to cheers from both Portuguese and German fans. 

Although Germany scored another goal shortly after Figo's entrance, he ended his final cap for his country on a high note by setting up Nuno Gomes to head in an 88th minute consolation goal.

Despite having no trophies to show for the "Golden Generation,"

Figo managed to captain the team to their best World Cup performance since the Eusébio era in 1966,

as well as helping Portugal to their best ever result in the UEFA European Championship. 

He finished his international career with 127 caps and scoring 32 goals, and he currently holds the record for most appearances with the Portuguese national team; he is also Portugal's fourth-highest all time goalscorer.


Figo is regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation, and one of the greatest Portuguese players of all time.

At his physical peak, Figo was a quick, elegant, highly skilful player with a dribbling ability that allowed him to frequently take on and beat defenders in one on one situations.

He would often employ feints to beat opponents, such as stepovers.

Figo was usually deployed as a winger in his early career, where he was capable of providing several assists, due to his ability to provide curling crosses to team-mates.

He made the second most assists in La Liga history behind Lionel Messi.

As he lost pace and mobility with age as his career advanced, he was deployed in a playmaking role as an attacking midfielder, in particular during his time with Inter, where he excelled with his vision and varied passing ability.

Although he primarily served as a creative player, he was also capable of contributing offensively with goals, due to his powerful striking ability from distance, as well as his accuracy from free-kicks and penalties.

In addition to his football ability, Figo was also highly regarded for his leadership throughout his career.


Figo has appeared in commercials for the American sportswear company Nike.

In 1996 he starred in a Nike commercial titled "Good vs Evil" in a gladiatorial game set in a Roman amphitheatre. 

Appearing alongside football players from around the world, including Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini, Eric Cantona, Patrick Kluivert and Jorge Campos, they defend "the beautiful game" against a team of demonic warriors, before it culminates with Cantona striking the ball and destroying evil.

In a global Nike advertising campaign in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, Figo starred in a "Secret Tournament" commercial (branded by Nike as "Scorpion KO") directed by Terry Gilliam, appearing alongside football players such as Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho, Francesco Totti, Roberto Carlos and Japanese star Hidetoshi Nakata, with former player Eric Cantona the tournament "referee".



Figo is married to Swedish model Helen Svedin with three daughters.

Along with his countryman, former Portugal national team manager and former youth team coach Carlos Queiróz, Figo was briefly joint seat holder for A1 Team Portugal, in A1 Grand Prix, during the 2005-06 season. 

He now owns an upscale bar in the Algarve region of Portugal.

Figo is an ambassador for the Stop TB Partnership in the fight against tuberculosis.

He works closely with Internazionale, serving as an ambassador for the club at functions across Europe.

He is also a board member of the Inter Campus charity project run by Inter Milan.

Figo is the founder of Network90, private members' networking site for the Professional Football Industry.

Figo is fluent in five languages, Portuguese, Spanish, English, Italian and French.