What do you do Dyscalculia test when you reach the peak of your career and retire at the age of 36? That question confronted Luís Figo, the Portuguese midfielder who retired from soccer after twenty years of success. His answer was to go back to school.
Luis Figo decided to get an education and take a post-graduate course, but like many athletes, he found it difficult to start over. He moved into the ranks of global soccer stars early, so he didn’t graduate, so he was left without a degree.
“I had to combine school and professional life. It managed until I was 17 years old, until I signed my first contract, since then I had no time to study,” he told me during a breakfast on the campus of Iese Business School in Madrid.
Such a gap in education precluded the possibility of a degree in business administration or advanced marketing. Figo thought he needed an MBA to successfully run his business and charitable foundation. But a friend told him about a general management program at Iese in Madrid, where Figo is now with his wife, Swedish model Helene Svedin, and their children.
Luis Figo’s qualifications proved sufficient for the nine-month program. The footballer was pleasantly surprised by the opportunity to attend school close to home. Teaching in Iese takes place in Spanish, which the footballer, as he admitted, knows better than English.
Luis Figo, a world-renowned Portuguese footballer, has played for both leading Spanish clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as for Sporting Lisbon and Inter Milan, where he now works as a consultant. Figo was named Portugal’s Footballer of the Year six times and FIFA named him Player of the Year 2001.
And now the former soccer player sits in the Iese cafeteria looking over the day’s schedule: lectures and discussions on topics such as net present value, internal rates of return, information technology, strategy dissemination and management in times of crisis. It’s all a long way from sports.
“I was looking for a program that could help me run a business, perform the duties of a director, apply and manage business strategies,” he says. – When I started the class, I had no idea about these things. The program covers a range of areas – finance, accounting, planning and strategy, human resources, advertising, new technology.
Movie and sports stars often invest in the entertainment sector and vineyard development. Luis Figo is no exception. He owns a coffee bar and hotel in the Algarve. He owns private property, goods and investments in the photovoltaic energy sector. And also kinesthetic learner a stake in the wine company D+D (the two Ds stand for Douro and Duero, the Portuguese and Spanish pronunciation of the river known for its vineyards), a Spanish-Portuguese venture.
Luis Figo is also active in charity and is one of the ambassadors of UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. The Luís Figo Foundation, located in Portugal, helps children from disadvantaged families and provides for their health, education, sports and social integration needs. It is currently working with the Ministry of Education on a project to promote sports and schooling in disadvantaged areas of Lisbon and Porto.
The main part of the general management program that Luis Figo enrolled in is the constantly updated cases, selected to take into account the effects of the global financial crisis.
“The crisis has had a negative impact on all of us. Portugal is going through a very difficult period,” Figo says, recalling the tense political negotiations over austerity. – Due to the cuts, people are starting to buy less, and my business (hotels and services) depends on consumption.”
Luis Figo is happy with the program. His only regret is that he didn’t have the chance to get such an education before. “When I was younger, I didn’t have much desire to study or think about the future,” he explains. – But as the years went by, I realized how important and even necessary education is. In a crisis it is quite difficult to find a job if you don’t have the relevant skills and knowledge. Life is a constant learning process. Now that I have a desire to learn and more time to do so, I will not be limited to one program.”