May 16 might have been a great day for Internazionale as they lifted their fourth consecutive Scudetto, but it was a sad day for world football as Luis Figo announced his retirement. He may be 36-years-old but he was still a big player for Inter this season and his contribution to the team will be missed next season.
He has joined Pavel Nedved in retiring this season and to be honest I can’t decide between the two which I’ll miss watching more. They’re both very different players but two who have really stood out to me, and probably everyone else, over the last decade or so.
Figo may be more recognised for his contribution to the Spanish league than the Serie A but his spell at Inter has been a good one. He is one of the few players to have played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid and was a favourite with both sets of fans, though the Barca fans did throw a piglet’s head at him during a Champions League semi-final between the two sides when playing for Real. Figo started his career with Sporting Lisbon in Portugal and because of his time there and his place in the Portuguese national team he is still regarded as a hero in his home country.
When the Portuguese wizard moved to Inter Milan it was thought to be the last move in his career and he wasn’t expected to continue for more than another year or so in Serie A. However, after joining Inter in 2005 he ended up making over 100 appearances for the Nerazzurri and became a firm favourite at the Giuseppe Meazza. Figo nearly moved to Italy before he joined Barcelona in 1995 but there was some dispute between Parma and Juventus and he ended up moving to the Catalan club instead.
The one thing Figo has missed out on is an international trophy. He was the leading figure in a ‘Golden Generation’ of Portuguese footballers that included Rui Costa and Joao Pinto and despite some decent displays in cup competitions they failed to lift any silverware. Though he did treat the world to some great skills and fantastic goals in his time with the national team where he notched up over 100 appearances.
Figo ended his illustrious career on a high with Inter by winning his fourth Scudetto with the team who are starting to dominate Italian football, at least for the time being anyway. He was named Portuguese footballer of the year an impressive six times in a row, won the Ballon D’Or in 2000 and FIFA World Player of the Year the year later. He also won four Spanish League titles, two at Barca and two at Real, as well as a Champions League winners medal in with Real Madrid. The world of football will miss Luis Figo, of that there is no question, but he gave us some fantastic memories and great goals long the way.