With all the talk of Cristiano Ronaldo, warranted given his uncanny ability. Ronaldo combines speed and strength and skill yet still in his early twenties. Yet, there’s a player who Cristiano Ronaldo must have picked up a few things from, or will integrate into his game as he matures, and that is Luis Figo. Figo has strength, holds the ball with ease. He has skill and deceptive speed even as he ages. But what he has that sets him apart his this smoothness, grace let’s say. Figo glides with the soccer ball and hits cross nearly as well as Beckham. It’s no wonder that Christian Pulisic’s favorite player growing up was Luis Figo. It was the jersey he wore as a kid. Here’s what Pulisic’s dad said about Figo:
“I called him ‘Figo’ from a young age, as we watched Real Madrid a lot during those years. He liked the way Luis Figo played, so I bought him a jersey with Figo’s name on it.”
I came across this great interview from 2004, but it’s worth a read. Here’s a quote from the Figo interview:
“Before last month’s rematch at the Camp Nou it was judiciously announced that David Beckham would be the corner taker. In the event, when the first Madrid corner was awarded, Figo raced to take it himself. It was an act of almost heroic defiance: each time he touched the ball a packed crowd raised a collective jeer suggestive of 10 jumbo jets in full, screeching, pre-take-off roar. And then, as if asking the crowd to do their worst, came the ball-hogging, the twisting this way and that with the ball seemingly tied to his bootlaces, in a spectacle that made mockery not only of his Barca tormentors but of the whole concept of football as an association game. Beckham, perhaps recalling how he was once abused by crowds in England, must have marvelled at the brazenness of it all.”
Figo’s return to Barcelona.
This is a supreme example of mental focus. Playing against your old team, bitter rivals, and in front of 90,000 now enemies who were once fans. And then, raising your game and almost inviting attention, not hiding in the least but taking on the challenge. Having courage and believe in your game, that’s why Figo is a legend.