Five reasons why Nuno Gomes will be a hit at Blackburn

Many were stunned to see Blackburn sign Nuno Gomes, but Portuguese expert Victor Ferreira thinks the veteran striker will have a ball at Ewood

Last week, Blackburn Rovers completed a marquee signing by adding the services of Portuguese footballing legend Nuno Gomes to their ranks. Despite competition from highly-paying leagues elsewhere, the recently relegated Rovers signed Gomes to a two-year contract which would surely see the 35-year-old retire with the Lancashire side.

Many are puzzled by the veteran’s signing, questioning what the former Benfica captain can contribute to a team looking to regain their position in the top flight of England. Here are five reasons why Nuno Miguel Soares Pereira Ribeiro – Gomes is a childhood nickname, given in recognition of a great Porto player of the 1980s – will be successful at Blackburn.

Even at this age, he’s still a proven threat in front of goalWith more than 250 goals for club and country, Gomes, like every great striker, knows how to find the back of the net. Although he was never a powerful striker, Gomes still possesses the ability to beat defenders in the air and score from a header. After being in the game for so long, the silky striker also knows exactly where to be and how to get there when his teammates are bombarding the 18-yard box with crosses from the wings.

This doesn’t mean that the other attackers have to do most of the work for him. Far from it: Gomes has the ability to create play for himself. Whether it involves dribbling around a defender, keeping possession away from centre-backs or playing a one-two with his nearest teammate, he never has to completely rely on his companions to create goalmouth opportunities for him.

Gomes cannot be defined as anything less than a hitman. The statistics prove it. His 29 goals in 79 Portugal caps are good enough to rank fifth on his country’s all-time goal scoring charts (behind Pauleta, Eusebio, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Luis Figo); only Michel Platini and Alan Shearer have scored more goals at European Championship finals.

A career average of 0.37 goals a game for the seleçao means that Gomes finds the net as often as Ronaldo for Portugal. His club level tallies are even more impressive, having scored 222 in 583 games – 0.38 goals per game – since his 1994 debut with Boavista.

Gomes (centre) after scoring in the Euro 2000 semi

No start? No problemIn the later stages of his career, Gomes has been mainly used as an impact substitute, coming into the game when Portugal, Benfica or, last season, Sporting Braga needed him. However, the reduced role doesn’t mean that the hitman doesn’t find the net as frequently. Instead, he has blossomed in the role and made it his own.

In the 2010-11 season, his last with Benfica, the clinical forward scored four times in only six appearances with the Portuguese giants. Even more impressive is that in these six appearances, Gomes played a combined 54 minutes. Four goals in 54 minutes? Deadly.

Last year with Sporting Braga, Gomes played a lot more frequently but only managed six goals. However, out of the six, four were scored off the bench. His accuracy in front of goal is shown by his chance conversion percentage, 35.3% being superior to that of any Blackburn player. Last year, Yakubu came closest with 25%. Although he still has the fitness required to play 90 minutes, Gomes can still make an impact should Kean choose to start him on the bench.

Cameo killer: sub Gomes scores the 23rd of his 29 international goals

A wealth of experienceDesperate to claw themselves back into the Premier League, Blackburn need experienced players who know how to win. With a long résumé, Gomes will offer Rovers just what they need after being demoted to play in the Championship for the first time in 11 seasons.

During a career spanning more than 650 appearances, the veteran has won two Portuguese league championships, two Portuguese Cups, three Portuguese League Cups and a Coppa Italia (he spent two years with Fiorentina, scoring 20 goals in 54 games).

He helped Portugal to a Euros final and semi-final, plus a World Cup semi-final. He also won the Under-18 Euros. His nine trophy wins make him the player with the most silverware on the squad, surpassing Danny Murphy’s tally of six trophies.

His latest gong: the 2011 League Cup

A leader among leadersAlthough they have a few veterans – Murphy, Paul Robinson, Morten Gamst Pederson, David Dunn – Rovers have a lot of youngsters in their squad. They need a wise presence, in the changing room and on the field, to help mould the young talent into the stars for the future.

Having worn the captain’s armband for several years for both Portugal and Benfica, Gomes is no stranger to a leadership position within the team; he will be looking to take Leon Best under his wing and bring the young striker to the next level of his game.

Gomes gives CR7 tips after scoring in the Euro 2008 quarters

Money in the marketEven if his performances on the field don’t assist Blackburn, Gomes is guaranteed to make a difference off it. Without a doubt, he will become one of the Rovers’ most marketable and profitable players. Having secured almost as many sponsors as goals over the years, Gomes will bring the attention of Adidas, TMN, Dhoze, Sagres and others to the Rovers camp which can culminate in lucrative deals.

Gomes also has the ability to draw female fanfare. The elegant striker holds an important place in the hearts of many Portuguese women, who have voted him as the sexiest man in the nation on more than one occasion. In both 2008 and 2009, Gomes won the award from a poll conducted by Portuguese newspaper Correio de Manhã.

The beloved hitman: Gomes and fans

On and off the field, Gomes has the ability to become a major hit at Blackburn. If he is granted playing time – even from the bench – the hitman has the potential to respond with goals. Away from the pitch, he will bring the attention of sponsors and the female demographic to Blackburn, who could greatly benefit from an economic spike.

Despite his age, Gomes is not ready to retire – as his signing at Blackburn proves. Having reportedly fielded offers from Qatar and the MLS, he could have signed a lucrative contract to quietly end his career. Instead, Gomes chose to take on one more challenge before he calls it quits.

Highly motivated for his swan song, Nuno Gomes will look to retire with the same glory that has followed him throughout his illustrious career.

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