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Exclusive: Valencia icons Fernando, Angulo wax lyrical over Barcelona hero Romario

The impression Romario left on his Valencia team-mates despite two lacklustre spells at the Mestalla says a lot about the Brazilian's mercurial talent.

Before Ronaldo Nazario established himself as one of football's greatest ever, it was Romario who was Brazil's darling in Europe.

Blessed with explosive speed and deadly finishing, the forward blew up at PSV Eindhoven before being signed by Barcelona in 1994. It is no coincidence that Ronaldo followed the same path from Brazil shortly after.

Romario bagged himself 30 goals in 33 La Liga appearances in his debut season at the Camp Nou, capping off the campaign by firing Brazil to World Cup glory in the United States.

But Romario's prowess on the pitch was often offset by his notorious partying habits, perhaps most famously characterised by the time he left Barca mid-season to celebrate Carnival in Rio De Janiero.

He eventually fell out with Barca boss Johan Cruyff, and thus begun a journeyman career spent in his homeland and Europe.

Romario's first stint at Valencia lasted five games after a falling out with Luis Aragones, while the second lasted seven before he returned to Brazil to prepare for the 1998 World Cup.

Despite his brief spell in Valencia, club legend Fernando Gomez was mesmerised by the Brazilian's natural ability.

He told Tribalfootball.com: "He was an extraordinary player, his first five metres were scintillating, and his technique and ease of scoring was incredible. He arrived at the VCF in his last period in Europe, and he didn't really show his best here, but as a footballer he was one of the greatest near and inside the box."

Asked if Romario would be worth more today than Neymar - who was bought for €222m by PSG - Gomez replied: "The most difficult thing to find in football is superb skill and a real gift for goal. It's the most expensive thing to pay for. Romario had it so he would he would have been worth similar amounts."

Gomez's former teammate, Miguel Angel Angulo, spent 13 years at Valencia, winning La Liga in 2003 and 2004, as well as the UEFA Cup in that same year.

And when quizzed who was the best player he played with, Angulo said: "I knew a lot of great players who left a great impression on me. I played with Romario.

"It's true that it was more towards the end of his playing career but, for me, he was an admirable footballer with an enormous talent."

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Will McCarthy

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