Interview: Luis Figo
The career of the globe-trotting, footballing great Luis Figo will be remembered for many things: his pace and trickery; his Ballon d’Or win; his infamous transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000; his statesman-like role in the Portugese national team; even his short-run as a candidate to challenge Sepp Blatter at the 2015 FIFA presidential elections.
Whichever version of Figo you relate to the most, there is no doubting that he was one of the best of his generation, and arguably one of the greatest footballers that Portugal ever produced. Esquire Middle East had a brief exchange with the man, when he was in vacation in Dubai, staying at the JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort.
In your career, did you like playing away games?
I’ve never had a problem playing away games. If the stadiums were good ones, then I enjoyed it even more!
Was there a team that you hated playing against?
I always had respect for all the teams we played against.
Which players did you enjoy sharing a room with?
When I was at Barcelona my roommate was Pep Guardiola. At Real Madrid, I shared with Raul and then when I moved to Inter Milan, I spent time with Julio Cruz. All those guys were great to be around!
What was the main difference between playing football in Italy and Spain?
The focus for football players in Spain is to work more on technique and skills, while in Italy, your physical conditioning is what defines the game.
When you were a young player, which players took you under their wing?
During my time at Sporting Lisbon, I received a lot of valuable advice from senior players like Pedro Venancio, Oceano and Fernando Gomes.
Are you still good friends with any players?
Yes, quite a lot of them. I am still very close to Francesco Toldo, Dimas, Ricardo Costa, Fernando Couto, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Pauleta, Fernando Hierro and Roberto Carlos. We have had great memories together as team mates and friends and I think those kind of memories just make you stay in touch always.
Who was the best player you played with?
I cannot pick just one. Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Raul, Bechkam, Rivaldo, Veron and Ibrahimovic are some of the greatest players I’ve had the privilege of playing with.
Where do you keep your Ballon d’Or trophy?
In my favourite place, at home.
What is your favourite…
Clothing brand: Loro Piano, Dolce & Gabbana and Brioni
Shoe brand: Berlutti
Car: Audi, Ferrari
Stadium to play in: Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena
Manager to play for: Carlos Queiroz, Johann Cruyff, Jose Mourinho, Vicente Del Bosque and Felipe Scolari
Strike partnership: Raul
Holiday destination: JA Manafaru (Maldives), Ibiza and Algarve
Restaurant: Diverxo in Madrid