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Luis Figo: Perez forced me out of Real

Luis Figo has claimed Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has interfered with team selection and did so to force him out of the club in 2005.

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Figo became the first of Perez's galactico signings when he arrived at the Bernabeu from Barcelona in summer 2000 after a promise made to him during that year's Madrid presidential election.

He went on to star as the team won the 2002 Champions League and many other trophies, but by April 2005 things had soured.

Figo was benched by then coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo at Barcelona in April 2005, and did not start another game before leaving for Inter Milan that summer despite having a year left on his contract.

The former Portugal captain told Radio Marca he was sure Perez had told Luxemburgo to leave him out of that Camp Nou game so David Beckham and Michael Owen could play.

"I have no doubts I was on the bench many times, but it is one thing when you are 18 and another when you are 33 or 34," he said. "You cannot treat a kid of 18 like a 33-year-old.

"But sometimes these are technical decisions and sometimes they are not, and it is a question of... in the world of football everything happens."

When asked if he felt it was Perez's doing, he replied: "For me, yes. I have no doubts. But that is the past and I have turned the page."

The 2000 Ballon D'Or winner was asked whether he saw parallels between his own situation and that of Iker Casillas, who is being rotated by Blancos coach Carlo Ancelotti and has not always seen eye-to-eye with Perez.

"A footballer always wants to play, and to be happy, feeling useful," Figo said. "If you cannot do that, or they will not let you -- well you look for the happiness wherever you can find it, whether that is at your lifelong club or not. In these types of situations only the person themselves can decide."

Figo, who recently also told Spanish website Grada 360 he had felt forced out of the club by Perez, continues to represent Madrid's veterans team alongside current assistant manager Zinedine Zidane and youth team coach Fernando Morientes.

He joked in that interview that there was a possibility of a Madrid with him as president and Zidane as first team boss "in ten or 15 years time… that would be a good one."


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