Missiles were raining down from the stands: coins, a knife, a glass whisky bottle. Johnnie Walker, I think. Or J&B. Best to keep away. Short corners? No thanks.
But the item thrown onto the pitch that came to embody the rivalry between these two during that generation was a Cochinillo, a pig’s head. The fact that this moment occurred three seasons after Figo had made his transfer provided an indication of just how raw the hatred for the midfielder remained in Catalonia following his move.
For understandable reasons Figo didn’t take corner kicks the first time he went back to the Camp Nou in Real Madrid colors and the season after he didn’t feature in the match. But in 2002, he strode over to whip in a delivery, perhaps hoping the wounds had healed somewhat; it became clear pretty quickly that they hadn’t.
Despite the vitriol that was inevitably hurled his way from those in Catalonia, Figo made a massive success of his career with the Santiago Bernabeu side. He won the Ballon d’Or at the end of 2000—admittedly, mainly due to his phenomenal skills showcased for Barca—before winning two league titles, a European Cup and two Copa’s during a five-year stint.
Needless to say—Javier Saviola’s understated switch from Barca to Real on a free transfer aside—Figo was the last player to have directly crossed the divide between the two clubs; looking at the carnage that switch conjured, it’d be a major, major surprise if we were ever witness to someone quite so high-profile doing so ever again.
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