Luis Figo says he "did not feel appreciated" at Barcelona, which led him to accept a controversial move to Real Madrid in 2000.
When a possible transfer between the two rivals was first mooted by then-Madrid presidential candidate Florentino Perez, Figo posed in a Barca shirt in Catalan newspaper Sport and dismissed any speculation about his future.
But when Perez pulled off a shock election victory, the move went through for a world-record fee of 10,000 million pesetas (£37m), and the subsequent sense of betrayal among Barca fans meant Figo was barracked on every return to his former club. Barca supporters infamously threw a pig's head in his direction upon his first return to the Camp Nou.
Speaking about the transfer in an interview with La Liga's official website, the former Portugal captain suggested that he had not felt valued by the Barca board, which pushed him to accept a better contract offer from Madrid.
? Más de 300 partidos en #LaLiga
⚽️ 68 goles
? 1 Balón de Oro
- LaLiga (@LaLiga) February 9, 2017
"There was a lot of pressure," Figo said. "There was a time when I thought it would not happen. But it was not just the sporting and the financial side, there were other people involved. There are always moments when you have doubts, you think a lot about whether to do something, until you take the step and there is no going back.
"In the final accounts, the same as in any profession, if you do not really feel 100 percent recognised for what you put in and what you do -- I am not talking about the fans, but those who manage and control the club -- when you have other offers you think about making a change. And that's what happened."
Figo said he currently had no wish to follow his ex-teammates Zinedine Zidane and Luis Enrique into coaching, while adding that both were doing excellent jobs in charge of Madrid and Barca respectively.
"At the moment I am not curious about coaching," he said. "Maybe I would like to try managing my national team, perhaps, but I am not really called to be on the pitch and training. I know that you can be a very good coach, but not get results. For a club like Real Madrid, it is always difficult, you look for immediate results all the time.
"[Zidane] has been doing better than ever, to improve on it would be difficult. [Luis Enrique] is doing phenomenally well, winning many trophies since he arrived. He has added his personal touches to Barca's philosophy. Even though he is at a rival club, I always wish him the best as he is my friend."