Former World Player of the Year Luis Figo has announced that he will retire from football at the end of this season.
The 36-year-old is hoping to go out on a high note after Inter Milan’s match match of the Italian season at home to Atalanta on Sunday. Jose Mourinho’s side have already wrapped up the Serie A title — the fourth that former Portugal captain Figo has won with the club since joining from Real Madrid in 2005. “Tomorrow, May 31, 2009 will be my last Sunday as a footballer,” Figo said in a statement on Inter’s official Web site. “It pleases me that my last Sunday as a footballer will be a Sunday of festival for the fourth consecutive Serie A title for me and all of us at Inter.” Figo had suggested that he would extend his career in China, Japan or the U.S. but has instead decided to call it a day.
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He won the European Footballer of the Year in 2000 and the following year he was named FIFA World Player of the Year after his controversial move from Barcelona to Madrid. Figo started his career with Sporting Lisbon in 1995, but soon moved to Spain where he won two league titles and the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Barca. He became a hate figure for the Catalan club’s fans after switching to bitter rivals Real, where he collected two more Primera Liga titles and also won the 2002 UEFA Champions League. Figo has been a fringe figure at the San Siro for the past two seasons due to a succession of injuries. “Winning has always been the only real objective of my career,” he said. “The only way to win I have known is sacrifice and work, which they taught me when I was a lad at Sporting. “That’s why today I also want to say sorry if in some matches or in some periods I haven’t managed to give my all because of injuries or other reasons. I was the first person to be displeased.”