Nuno Gomes, centre-forward for Portugal in the side that were runners up in the 2004 European Championships, has suggested that former Real Madrid star Luis Figo was a more intelligent player than Cristiano Ronaldo.
Back then, Ronaldo had just started to make waves in the Premier League at Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, some five years before his world record-breaking £80 million move to Real Madrid. Luis Figo was 31 years of age at Euro 2004 and was a Los Blancos hero at the Bernabeu in the Spanish capital. By the time Ronaldo arrived in 2009, Figo was playing out the twilight years of his club career at Inter Milan.
Figo made 127 appearances for Portugal and scored 32 goals at international level, as well as making 164 appearances for Real Madrid, scoring 36 goals.
As an attacking midfielder or winger, the comparison Nuno Gomes makes between the elder and junior compatriots is apt but from Ronaldo’s 49 goals scored already across 110 appearances for Portugal since 2003 and his 177 goals across 165 appearances for Real Madrid so far, one would have to, at least on paper, disagree with him when he suggests Figo was a more intelligent player than Ronaldo.
"Figo during his time was the best and Cristiano is the best at the moment," Gomes told UEFA.com.
"Figo had more brains but Cristiano has more power.”
"Maybe Cristiano scores more goals than Figo did because he can play not only as a winger but as a forward, whereas Figo was more of a winger but was rapid," he added.
Of course, in his prime, Luis Figo was undoubtedly one of the best players in the world alongside the likes of Zinadine Zidane, Ronaldinho, and Ronaldo. Figo won the Ballon d’Or in 2000 coming first place ahead of Zidane and Andriy Shevchenko, flanked either side of his win in 1999 by Brazil legend Rivaldo and England’s Michael Owen in 2001.