The Portuguese legend thinks his illustrious younger countryman can be remembered as one of the all-time top players without winning the World Cup.
Luis Figo does not believe Cristiano Ronaldo needs to win a FIFA World Cup title in order to remembered as one of football's greats.
Ballon d'Or holder Ronaldo is widely recognized as one of the best two players in the world along with Barcelona's Lionel Messi, and will be the focal point of Portugal's quest to win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this year.SPORTING NEWS: Projected USA starters | Mexico XI
Portugal is not among the favorites to triumph in South America, although it will hope to progress from Group G, which also contains Germany, Ghana and United States.
And Figo, who led Portugal to the World Cup semifinals in 2006, has been quick to dismiss Portugal's hopes of clinching the trophy.
"I think Portugal can make a good tournament depending on how the players arrive in physical condition in the World Cup," Figo told Laureus. "But, of course, Portugal depends a lot on Cristiano Ronaldo, so it depends if he is fit or not, and depending on his performance in the World Cup.
"I think Portugal is not in the line of the favorites in national teams, but probably they are in the second line.
"It's very difficult (for Portugal to win the World Cup), because it's a long way to the final and our country has 11 million people, so compared with Brazil, Argentina, Spain, France and the other ones who can have 50 or 60 million, the possibility of choosing players is less, so that shows that Portugal probably have difficulty choosing the 18-20 players for the World Cup.
"If you go to Brazil they don't have that problem, they can have two teams and that makes the difference."
And Figo insists it will not have a negative impact on Ronaldo's reputation if he never wins the tournament.
"I think it's important (doing well in the World Cup), of course, if you do that in a small country like Portugal it helps to be more important, but right now I think he needs to have that distinction in terms of what people think about his qualities," he added.
"To be remembered like Pele or Maradona? Well, if you want to be remembered like that in the World Cups, of course, you have to win, but in his general image and the prestige he has, I don't think he needs that."