Luis Figo says that he left Real Madrid due to Florentino Perez’s influence, and he had been critical of Spain’s approach to players over the age of 30.
The winger endured a difficult fifth and final year in the Spanish capital, spending a period on the bench before leaving in the summer of 2005 to join Inter.
“I could not stand it because I was a player that the President did not want,” considered Figo in the second part of an interview released this week with Grada360.
“I don’t know what had changed, but I remember well that we came to play Albacete, I had played and we had won [6-1]. Then the next week was the Clasico [lost 3-0] and then from one moment to another I was on the bench without an explanation.
“It was certainly a way to hurt me. I am telling you what I think. I am clear on why I left, I had one year to go on my contract at Madrid where I could have been paid well and stayed quiet, but I preferred to find a new project and be happy instead of taking the money without playing.
“Is that the case now with Iker Casillas? I do not know, it depends on each case at that time. It is very hard when you are there playing and at any moment it can happen, because it affects us as we are only players once.
“But in my situation I knew why and that there was no reason for me to be here.
“I do not share Florentino Perez’s ideas, but I respect him. Certainly he is very powerful and very influential and I hope that he brings good things to the club.
“I had a bad experienced but I leave that in the past. What I hope is that the club’s project and philosophy takes them to the top. Maybe it won’t, but time will tell.”
The Portuguese considered further his exit from the Santiago Bernabeu, in relation to the attitude he felt in Spain compared with Italy, where he played for four years before retiring.
“Exits are always complicated. I did not want a tribute, I did not care. I wish that it was different, of course, but it was also my decision not to stay and do nothing there.
“At 32, I was ‘dead’ for many people and I was lucky to choose well and to be happy for four years at Inter winning four Leagues.
“It is the mentality in Spain, it is slightly negative compared to in Italy, where the fans, media and clubs judge you on your performance. In Spain, from the age of 31 you are already over.
“In Italy, the difference is in this – look at the transfers of Inter, Milan and Juventus. They have players at 30, 32 still playing because their performance is good.
“Pirlo left Inter, went to Milan and then at 30-odd years went to Juventus and remains a leader in his team.
“They do not crush you if you have a bad game by saying, ‘hey, you’re dead and it is because you are 30’. You have to look at the performance and then talk.
“That is a reality that exists in Spain, whilst in Italy they have found a way out for people to stay happy and keep playing. It was very important in my decision that I found happiness.”