In what was an utter convulsive event, Luis Figo marked his return to Barcelona’s Camp Nou for the second time as a Real Madrid player on this day in 2002.
Figo joined Barcelona back in 1995 in what can be described as a pure luck of the Catalonians. Being one of the hottest properties back then, Figo was a subject of an interest from the likes of Juventus and Parma and the Portuguese, on his part, went on to sign a contract with both Serie A clubs which later resulted in the clubs getting a two-year transfer ban on him.
Barcelona pounced and signed Figo for a reported £2.25 million fee. In his first season with the club, the Portuguese made 53 appearances in all competition and won UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup followed by two back-to-back league titles. Establishing a perfect partnership with Ronaldo, Figo became an utter fan favourite at Barcelona until the day Real Madrid came knocking at his doors.
In 2000, Figo made a surprising move to Barcelona’s arch title rivals Real Madrid for a then world record £37.2 million fee, which – for Real Madrid – signalled Fiorentino Perez’s Galactico era. It was in October 2000 when Figo first returned to Barcelona as a Galactico and received one hell of a welcome. Barcelona fans were well prepared and hung the banners around which read “Traitor”, “Judas”, “Scum”, and “Mercenary”
When ever Figo received the ball, fans threw everything they had in their hands and the midfielder, who was Real’s regular corner taker, was instructed not to take any in the fixture. Barcelona eventually emerged victorious with a comfortable scoreline of 2-0. In his first season with Real, Figo won the La Liga honour and by the 2001-02 season, he had managed a Champions League medal as well. All this fueled Figo’s next return to Barcelona in November 2002 even more and the scenery still remains one of the most daunting images of the Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry.
This time again, Figo decided he would avoid taking corners and throw-in. As the game approached its final moments, Real Madrid won and the corner and despite so much of hatred, the Portuguese decided to take the set-piece. It took him two minutes to take the corner. Furthermore, another corner followed on the other side and as Figo walked towards the flag, Barcelona fans lost their cool. As Figo took his run-up to the corner, he was distracted by missiles which include oranges, lighters, bottles and everything the fans had in their hands.
Referee eventually decided to intervene and stopped the game for almost 20 minutes and during the break, it was revealed that a pig’s head was aimed towards the Portuguese as well. The game eventually ended as a 0-0 affair and everyone were left disappointed.
Football is more than just a game!