Portuguese international Luis Figo believes Real Madrid CF's place in the UEFA Champions League final explains his decision to join the Merengues from FC Barcelona in summer 2000.
Figo attracted controversy with his €65m transfer between the two arch-rivals, leaving the Camp Nou to join the then Champions League holders. The attacking midfield player now has the chance to claim his own Champions League winner's medal when he takes the field against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in Wednesday's final in Glasgow.
'Maximum you can achieve'
Figo, 29, admitted that there could be no greater stage, saying he left Barcelona, who Madrid beat in this season's semi-finals, for this very reason. "I wanted to be in a Champions League final," said Figo. "I have been here for one-and-a-half years and I am happy with winning so many important titles, as an individual and with the team, and now I have the opportunity to play in the Champions League final, the maximum a player can achieve at club level."
Opportunity to play
The reigning FIFA World Footballer of the Year added: "Only the opportunity to play in the final satisfies me. Unless someone creates a new competition, thanks to God I have won all titles except the Champions League, and by luck I now have the opportunity to play in the final. Making the final is very difficult, and it is normal that I want to win it, but the fact that I am there is why I am with Real, because the club regularly makes finals and, what is more, wins them".
Time to focus
A key member of Portugal's 2002 FIFA World Cup finals squad, Figo says that only now with the Spanish domestic Primera División campaign finished are the Madrid players really focusing on the game and what it means. Everybody wants to win the final. Every player hopes to play in it. Some players have experience of the final, but we still have not talked about it because we were playing for the Primera División, but now there is time to talk about it", he explained.
One of Figo's important targets is to ensure he comes through the final without injury, having suffered ankle problems in recent months. "I do not know how I will play, but I hope, at least, to be comfortable and to play without pain," he said.
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