Luis Figo 'is not Jesus Christ'
Luis Figo is no saint, as he proved against The Netherlands, and he plans to make David Beckham’s life hell when Portugal tackle England in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Figo was given the all-clear to play after Fifa ruled out further action for a headbutt on Holland’s Mark van Bommel in the second round match which saw 16 players booked and two from each side sent off.
The 33-year-old Portugal skipper was booked and, because Russian referee Valentin Ivanov showed him a yellow card, Fifa will not intervene.
Figo, who played with Beckham at Real Madrid before the Spanish giants decided he was surplus to requirements and off-loaded him to Inter Milan, preferring the England captain who was once billed as a clothes-horse for the Madrid marketing people.
“I’m looking forward to playing England and playing Beckham again will be interesting,” said Figo of whom coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said after the Holland match: “Jesus said we should turn the other cheek. Unfortunately, Figo is not Jesus Christ.”
The last time Portugal played England they knocked them out of Euro 2004 in the quarterfinals in a 6-5 penalty shoot-out after Figo was substituted and Beckham fired his penalty over.
“We probably both have some unfinished business,” said Figo.
Portugal were helped in that match two years ago when Wayne Rooney went off after just 27 minutes with a broken bone in his foot.
On Friday the Manchester United striker will be hoping to prove his return to full fitness after coming back from another broken bone in his foot.
“Yes, he is a special player. But we have special players and great team spirit,” said Figo.
And just as in 2004, England’s defence again looks suddenly vulnerable.
Portugal hope to have Cristiano Ronaldo back after the Manchester United winger was kicked on the inside of the thigh by Holland defender Khalid Boulahrouz in Portugal’s 1-0 win.
Ronaldo, in tears when he came off in the first half, is desperate to play.
“It is a special match because I play in England,” he said.
“I’ve been there for three years and I hope we can win.”
Portugal keeper Ricardo, who scored the winning penalty in the Euro 2004 shoot-out, was unimpressed by England.
“We’re going to meet England again in the quarterfinals and this time I don’t want to decide it on penalties.”
Scolari who turned down the England job Sven-Goran Eriksson will relinquish after this tournament believes Portugal can surpass their 1966 World Cup performance when Eusebio’s magnificent side was beaten by 2-1 England in the semifinals.
“We want our exploits to go beyond what the country did in 1966,” he said.
England and Beckham have been warned. â€’ Sapa-DPA