Gaspart provided explicit details about Luis Figo's controversial decision to leave Barcelona and join arch-rivals Real Madrid and said that the move had a massive impact on his tenure as the president of Barcelona.
Luis Figo had won successive La Liga titles at Barcelona and alongside Patrick Kluivert and Rivaldo, the Portuguese magician was revered by the Catalan club. In a shocking turn of events in 2000, Figo was convinced by Real Madrid's Florentino Perez to move to Barcelona's arch-rivals for a whopping €62 million transfer fee.
The Portuguese star's decision did not go down well with Barcelona fans. Figo has been a villain in Barcelona since his move to Real Madrid and continues to draw the ire of the Barcelona fanbase to this day.
Barcelona veteran Joan Gaspart reveals details about Luis Figo's transfer to Real Madrid
Joan Gaspart was the president of Barcelona from 2000 to 2003. The Catalan businessman labelled Real Madrid's pursuit of Luis Figo as unethical and did not spare Real Madrid's then-president Florentino Perez.
"The night I was elected president of Barcelona, the best player in Spanish football, Luís Figo, went to Real Madrid. It was a dirty and frightening move in the middle of the night by my good friend Florentino Pérez. It was not a good start."
The former president took a no-holds-barred approach and criticised Luis Figo for exploiting Barcelona and manufacturing a move to Real Madrid. Luis Figo's time at Real Madrid was a mixture of highs and lows but Barcelona fans never forgave him for deserting the club.
"Figo was a traitor. He played me. That same night Figo called me and said, 'My representative has signed a document with Real Madrid, and you must pay five hundred million pesetas. If you guarantee that Barcelona pays that amount, I will stay.'"
Joan Gaspart also added that Luis Figo went back on his word and joined Real Madrid in spite of Barcelona's best efforts. The former president went on to reveal a late-night conversation on the phone with the Portuguese superstar where specific commitments were made.
"Figo asked me to go look for him with a guarantee from La Caixa of five hundred million pesetas. It was twelve o'clock at night! I gave him a guarantee that Barcelona would live up to its commitment. And he went to Real Madrid."
The new interview sheds light on one of the most controversial transfer sagas in football history. Luis Figo's decision to move from Barcelona to Real Madrid was painted by the media as a scandal and resulted in several years of pain and anguish at the Camp Nou.
Luis Figo won the Ballon d'Or in 2000 and his individual achievement was ironically on account of his incredible exploits with Barcelona. The Portuguese magician was whistled and jeered on his return to the Camp Nou. The "pig's head" fiasco remains one of the most infamous incidents in El Clasico history.
The Real Madrid legend is a traitorous figure in Barcelona to this day. Joan Gaspart's fiery statements will certainly echo the sentiments of the Catalan faithful who are yet to recover from Luis Figo's betrayal over two decades ago.Published 09 Jun 2020, 18:03 IST