Figo plans to retire

Real Madrid's Portuguese midfielder Luis Figo has announced he is quitting international football after next summer's Euro 2004 tournament in Portugal. "I plan to leave the national team after the European Championship," Figo said in an interview with the sports channel SPORTTV. The FIFA World Player of the Year in 2001, who has a contract with Real Madrid until 2006, has played 97 times for his country and should earn his 100th cap in a friendly early next year before the tournament starts. Figo gave no specific reasons for his international retirement and declined to make any predictions about his club career.

"Playing in England was always a childhood dream, but that doesn't mean it'll happen, because I am under contract at Real Madrid until 2006," he said.

"It would be a great pleasure to go back to Sporting, the club that started me off. Everything is feasible in football, but I won't promise anything." Like many of Portugal's "golden generation" who won the World Under-16 crown in 1989 and the World Under-19 title in 1991, Figo has won top club honours but success at international level has eluded him. He first signed for Sporting at the age of 13, later making 124 league appearances for the club, scoring 14 times. He made his senior debut for Portugal in October 1991 in a 1-1 draw against Luxembourg.