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Portugal's golden striker Figo key to Euro 2000 success
LISBON, May 11 (Reuters)(DS) - Luis Figo's crowd-pleasing goal
in a recent friendly against Denmark showed how much Portugal
will depend on the Barcelona striker in Euro 200.
A veteran of Portugal's "golden generation" side that twice
lifted the World Youth Cup, Figo's characteristic short
dribbles, bursts of speed and technique will make him the
spearhead of Portuguese attacks in the July tournament.
His March 29 goal has sparked comparison with the legendary
Eusebio, the top scorer in the 1966 World Cup finals whose nine
goals drove Portugal to third place that year.
In the game seen as a Euro 200 warm-up, Figo left two Danish
defenders standing then kidded goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel into
diving before chipping the ball into an open goal.
"It was spectacular, I was left speechless. I couldn't
believe it," said former Manchested United keeper Scheichel, who
now plays for Portuguese league leaders Sporting Lisbon.
Figo was transferred to Barcelona for a fee of some $2
million in June 1995 since when he has conquered the hearts of
Barca fans.
His transfer was controversial, because Figo had signed a
preliminary agreement with Parma while Sporting Lisbon, where he
was then playing, was negotiaing with Juventus. When both clubs
threatened to take action with FIFA, Figo headed for Barcelona
and pledged not to play in Italy for two seasons.
Born in November 1972 on the industrial south bank of the
River Tagus facing Lisbon, Figo began his playing days with a
local team before he was signed by Sporting Lisbon before he had
turned 18.
Capped 60 times, Figo scored three goals in the qualifying
round for Euro 2000, two of them in decisive 1-1 draws against
Azerbaijan and Romania.
Euro 2000 will likely be the last chance for Figo and the
rest of the golden generation to shine and make up for Euro 1996
when they promised well but lost meekly to the Czech Republic in
the quarter finals.
"Portugal will have to fight it out with Holalnd, Romania
and England. We know it's a tough group but you can't choose
opponents in the finals," Figo said. "I mean to put all my skill
at the service of the Portuguese side and if we all do that, we
can aspire to going all the way."
 

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For a second I thought you were slapping yourself on the back. Oh, that's right, your name is Ola.
 

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The only way we are going to do anything about our scoring problem is to put Figo just behind Pauleta or Gomes.
 
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