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Luis Figo: “If it hadn’t been Madrid, maybe I wouldn’t have gone.”

The Portuguese superstar spoke to The Guardian about his transfer from Barca to Real, Del Bosque, Perez, and more

UEFA Europa League 2022/23 Group Stage Draw Photo by Joosep Martinson - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Former Real Madrid player Luis Figo spoke to The Guardian in an interview that was released today to talk about his transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid, relationships with figures from that era, and a ton more. We’ve included some of the Real Madrid related bits of the interview below.

One of the main themes from the new Netflix documentary, El Caso Figo, was that Figo’s agent at that time, José Veiga, made a deal with Florentino Perez which Figo didn’t know about. Figo did not want to go to Real Madrid in 2000, but once he realized that Veiga was to lose 30m if the transfer didn’t go through, he felt somewhat obligated to help close the deal despite having no legal obligation to do so.

“Only I could save them, by going to Madrid,” Figo told The Guardian. “But it was the only way to fix it. I was very calm about my own position although at the same time I had a [duty of] care for those working with me. But the decision, I take. I’m the one responsible for it, for my actions. The decision to pull them from that responsibility is mine alone. And a year later I stop working with my agent. Because of some situations that emerged. I said: ‘OK, I’ll take responsibility again. From now on, you have your life, I have mine.

“I had everything in Barcelona, but you think: ‘It’s not like I’m going to a second-rate club.’ If it hadn’t been Madrid, maybe I wouldn’t have gone. It’s a challenge, a decision based on feeling valued, convincing me I was going to be an extremely important piece. It could have been a cagada, a cock-up, but it wasn’t, thank God.

“These days, there’s more protection. It felt like I was doing a press conference every day. That takes its toll. We were starting to tour, a new idea, there was the rivalry, the pressure, the price.” The hatred too. “Not everyone likes God, how is everyone going to like me?” he says, but the footage of his return to the Camp Nou is still shocking. “My only concern was if something happened physically, some madman. But go and play football? Nah! In football there’s no reason to be scared.”

WATCH: Managing Madrid’s Kiyan Sobhani interviews the co-director of El Caso Figo, Dave Tryhorn, about the making of the documentary:

Figo also spoke about the importance of having Vicente del Bosque as head coach of the Galactico project.

“One of the best people and coaches I’ve encountered,” Figo said of Del Bosque. “Managing 25 egos is the hardest thing in the world. It’s not about imposing, all ‘argh, argh’, like a child, he understood. There were egos, there are always egos, but there were great professionals who wanted to compete, win, who respected each other’s space. If everyone’s like, ‘No, I’m the world’s best, you run’, it’s chaos. We had a good atmosphere.”

The full interview can be found here.

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