Football: Portugal Superstar Wants Euro Medal to Prove That He's Better Than Beckham; THE LUIS FIGO FEAR FACTOR

Article excerpt

PORTUGUESE hero Luis Figo has film star looks, a stunningly beautiful wife, a huge bank balance and skills that even outshine David Beckham.

But he is fiercely jealous of the Manchester United and England player. Why? Because Becks has something the Barcelona man lacks - an impressive medal collection.

That's the reason Figo aims to put Beckham in the shade when the pair clash in Eindhoven on Monday.

The similarities between the players is striking.

Both men ply their trade on the right wing.

Figo's wife Helen is Denmark's top model, they are regulars in Spain's version of Hello! magazine and he earns pounds 1million-a-year from advertising everything from yoghurt to clothes.

Back in England, of course, Becks and his glamorous Spice Girl wife Victoria are rarely out of the headlines.

The comparisons are not lost on Figo, who is determined to outgun Beckham when the pair go head-to-head in Monday's Euro 2000 Group A opener.

Figo, 27, said: "I admire Beckham but I envy the success he has had for Manchester United and I would like the same.

"Off the pitch, I can relate to the lifestyle he has. We are very similar in that.

"But he is lucky in that he can walk around in England, while I cannot do the same in Spain or Portugal.

"I love the fans and they are very special to me, but everyone needs their privacy which is why playing in England appeals to me.

"But it is talent that I admire most - and what it has brought him.

"People compare him and me but he has achieved much while I'm still waiting. And he would say the same. Every footballer wants success on the pitch as that is the only place that is important.

"Beckham is only getting the credit he deserves. He is one of the best players in the world. His crossing is something I admire and will be a very big danger to Portugal.

"But for all of the talk, now it is our time to perform in Euro 2000 and I feel the pressure too. If I want to be recognised as the best, I have to perform as one of the best.

"Portugal have underachieved in major tournaments and now is my time as well. We have a lot of expectations which we have to live up to.

"England is such an important game for us because if we lose the opening match then we will find it very hard to go through.

"But we also don't know how to defend or play for a draw - that is not the Portugal way.

"For me personally, it is everything. I am nothing without success and I feel such a motivation now to be the best and help Portugal. …