Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo is a retired Portuguese footballer. He played as a midfielder for Sporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Internazionale before retiring on 31 May 2009. He won 127 caps for the Portugal national team, a record at the time but later broken by Cristiano Ronaldo. Renowned for his creativity and ability to get past defenders as a winger, Figo is regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation. His 106 assists are the second-most in La Liga history, behind Lionel Messi. He won the 2000Ballon d’Or, 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year, and in 2004 Pelé named him 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 transfer in 2000 from Barcelona to bitter rivals Real Madrid set a world record fee of €60 million. Figo 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 the international level, he scored 32 goals for Portugal, representing the nation at three European Championships and two World Cups, helping it finish runner-up at Euro 2004.
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2005–06 season opened with the success in Supercoppa Italiana, beating Juventus 1–0 in extra time with a goal scored by Verón. During the Champions League group stage, the side managed to have a line-up of 11 foreign players on the pitch: the only european was Luís Figo, playing the second time. Despite a good first half (also including a 3–2 win in derby, that lacked since 2002) Inter had a second part not so bright. Being knocked out in Champions League by Villareal, the side was hardly attacked by his fans. On the pitch, season finished like the previous with a third league place and the win of Coppa Italia against Roma. However, during the summer of World Cup, Juventus and Milan resulted caught in Calciopoli scandal: in late July, a few weeks after Italian triumph in Germany, Inter was awarded of 2005–06 title. Further, the relegation of Juventus to Serie B made Inter the first and only club ever present in modern Serie A (from 1929–30).
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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” of global stars signed by the club every year. 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 significant due to his status as a star player at Barcelona, reliable and committed to the cause as a team leader. One of his Barcelona teammates stated, “Our plan was simple: give the ball to Luís. 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.
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With six goals in nine matches, Figo helped Portugal qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup; on 2 June 2001, in the qualifier against the Republic of Ireland at Lansdowne Road, he served as captain for the first time on his 74th cap and scored the equaliser for a 1–1 draw. In their first World Cup since 1986, Portugal suffered group stage elimination.