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His name is ringing loudly around the world because they have just completed 20 years of their convulsion transfer to Madrid. Since leaving football he has played many clubs, he is a restless businessman and is dedicated to his work as UEFA manager. But everything has been left in parentheses by the pandemic, including a great project of soccer schools in China for which he had brought almost 100 Portuguese coaches there. Luis Figo (Lisbon, 47 years old) picks up the phone …

How is life going?

Fortunately fine. The whole family was confined in Madrid, enduring the pull and hanging on a mountain of feelings and emotions. Some days better and others worse, like all. But, happily, we are all fine.

Who would have told us that we would have to live something like this?

It's kind of like a science fiction movie. You don't think it's true, but it's there.

These days you are the protagonist on all websites, 20 years ago when you signed for Madrid.

Well believe me your call reminded me (laughs). So many years have passed … That only means that one grows older, and that an atypical summer is behind, so it moved in terms of numbers in a transfer that, even today, would be even ridiculous.

Man, with 60 million euros, today he still gives you to buy Jovic …

(Laughs). 20 years ago it was a lot of money, that's true.

Did the signing change the history of Madrid?

Not so much, but it did mark a change of direction in the trend of Spanish football. This has never happened before …

And it was the start of that other way of seeing football as an industry, the Galactic Madrid.

It could be the start of a modern Madrid. It was a fantastic time, with so many good players together … And it was won, of course.

When did you have the first news from Madrid?

I was in the Eurocup, which was Euro summer, and it had been a good season. There were elections in Madrid and at Barça. My agent (José Veiga) called me to inform me that there was a club, like Lazio, interested in paying my clause, and that one of Real Madrid's candidates was also interested.

“Zidane has a gift and ability, his is no longer a surprise”

Did you take him seriously?

I listened to him, but without paying much attention to him. And I transferred the offers to the Barça board. They also didn't take me very seriously.

Have you ever regretted that decision?

Not really, although it was a very hard summer, that's true. There was a lot of pressure, a lot of noise, uncertainty …

Is it true that you wanted to back out at the last moment and that you called Núñez to tell him that he would stay if Barça paid the compensation?

Is a lie. I never spoke to Núñez after finishing the Euro Cup or when I went on vacation to Sardinia. Neither with Núñez nor with Gaspart. It is totally a lie. It was rather the opposite …

Yes?

Having elections at Barça, Gaspart took advantage of the fact that a well-known journalist from Sport was going to Sardinia to send me a signed letter in which he offered me the same thing as Madrid for me to stay and said that if I had to pay some compensation, Barça assumed it …

That part of the story was not known …

But I did not trust Gaspart and I will never trust (laughs).

“Madrid mixes youth from the future and people with experience … That is key”

Why did you leave Barça?

When you work in a place and they don't value you, and you say it, it seems stubborn. But things get more serious and more serious until you make a decision. And that was what happened.

What was the first time you spoke to Florentino?

The first time I saw him was in my lawyer's office in Lisbon, when we met after my vacation in Sardinia, once he was chosen, to sign definitively with Madrid.

What did he say?

Man, until he saw me sign, he was uneasy. Until then I did not have the certainty that I was going to Madrid. So nothing, he said he was going to one of the best clubs in the world, that he was going to win titles, prestige … He was trying to convince me.

But didn't you have to pay millions in compensation if you didn't sign?

No, no … I had not committed myself to anything. The one who had signed that was my representative.

Did José Veiga not have his authorization to commit to Madrid?

He had my verbal, but not written, authorization, so I had no contractual obligation. I had nothing signed with my representative, only a relationship of trust and friendship.

“Vinicius will improve his relationship with the goal when he matures, but with that he is born”

Were you angry when you found out what your agent had signed?

The truth is that I had no knowledge. I had only given him directions to negotiate …

Did you get mad at him?

Well, the truth is that I thought the responsibility was his, and that's it. Each is responsible for their attitudes and their commitments. But hey, there were many scared that day, because there were many people who got paid with that operation. And until I signed it is logical that everyone was nervous …

Did Florentino disappoint you when you left Madrid?

The truth is that he did not behave very well with me. At the time he fucked me a lot, because I had always had a very frontal relationship with him. When you feel betrayed, you don't see it favorably …

What do you think led him to be unfair to you?

I don't know … No idea. You may have thought that I was no longer interested in the project. If you do not enter the strategy of the boss, they change you.

Did you feel betrayed?

Because things were not clear. I had one more year left on my contract and suddenly I started leaving the line-ups three months after the end of the season. Just in the week of Madrid-Barça. From there I was a substitute … And my situation changed.

“I still think that Bale has a lot of quality … I like it”

Has Florentino then proposed to you to return to Madrid like Hierro or Raúl?

Yes, we had an approach a year or so ago, but I was not available due to my UEFA functions.

Would you return to Madrid with him in the presidency?

Man, you can't say yes or no … The past is there, I know how things are, but I would never go back to be a cone, go back to go back … That is clear to me.

Were you surprised by the Zidane coach?

I was first surprised that he wanted to be a coach. There are others, like Guardiola, who were seen more. But once he made that decision, I know that Zidane has a gift and that ability, and it is no longer a surprise.

Does Madrid need coaches with wide sleeves like Del Bosque, Ancelotti or Zidane?

You have to know the club, the environment, the players well… In no club is the so-called heavy hand necessary when you have players who identify with the projects. Everything is easy to manage there. In general, for Madrid that profile is better, but there also comes a time when you have to have a hard hand, call someone's attention because things do not work out. Nothing is black or white.

Let's say Madrid have been lucky with Zidane.

Luck must be sought, worked on. Zidane is calm and has capacity, his, for example, does not seem like luck.

“It is important that Messi feels that they support him inside and strength of the field”

Was the galactics' wardrobe complicated?

Well, the truth is that I think not. Each knew of their role and status. Until today we all have a very good relationship.

Do they call each other on the phone?

Each one has his life, but yes, we all call each other … David, Hierro, Raúl, Ronaldo …

And the time that Zidane went to Florentino's office with the story that Figo did not pass it?

I think it was more an invention of the Press. But just in case, Miñano, the physical trainer, showed up one day to talk to us and showed us the statistics: “For the sake of clarity, in the last game you have passed the ball between them much more than the others.” It was nonsense.

Does Madrid need to renew the squad to continue winning?

On the contrary, Madrid has an extensive squad and one of the best. That is what has helped him become champion in the final part of this Coronavirus League. It has an interesting mix of people with experience and people with a great future. I am a huge fan of performance. If you are 36 and you give, what difference does it make. Modric is an example. In Spain the DNI is looked at a lot and the performance little. In Italy it was very different.

Mbappé is called to mark an era at Real Madrid?

He is one of the best in the world, he has a lot of talent and a lot of room for improvement, but of course, he is in a very strong financial team. I don't know if it will be possible to see him wear white.

Raúl is a winner, a club man. If it comes after Zidane? It depends on whether they give you opportunities. “

Can Vinicius learn how to finish?

With maturity, the relationship with the goal will improve, but it is also true that you are born with that, you don't learn. Either you are born with a goal or not. But it will improve, of course … You cannot ask a kid to have all the facets of the game so young polished.

Is Benzema in the field a '9' or a '10'?

He is a great player and he has shown it this year. He has taken an important step since Cristiano left, because he has felt more important. It's a mix of nine and ten, yes …

There were people who doubted that Madrid could win without Cristiano.

Cristiano has been very important for Madrid and Madrid for Cristiano. It is irreplaceable. But Madrid have found mechanisms to win without him.

Has Bale left you cold for what he has done in Madrid?

I still think that it has a lot of quality despite the difficult moments it has had with the fans. I like a lot.

What can we expect from Messi now?

It is a phenomenon! It proves it year by year. The important thing for a player of this level is to be motivated, to feel that they support him both on the field and outside. Supported in the sense that there is a strong team to help you.

Shield / Flag Real Madrid

Well, in the Barca now, complicated …

It is to me that, without being inside, I do not like to make many evaluations when I have no knowledge.

What team do you enjoy now?

I really like Liverpool, Madrid when they win, because they are solid. Barça when they have played with their style … But in general I prefer the teams that play on the attack and produce spectacle.

After Zidane comes Raúl?

He is a winner, a club man. I wish him well, but it depends on the opportunities they give him. You already know that life is easier that way. He has knowledge and ability, like more people in the house like Guti, Hierro …

Will we see you on a bench?

Yes, just watching the games to enjoy them as a spectator (laughs).