In the 999 games that Brazil have previously participated in, plenty of legends have come to the fore for their country.
Pele, Jarzinho, Carlos Alberto, Garrincha, Zico, Ronaldo, Romario, Dunga.
The list is endless for the five-time World Cup winners, who have constantly produced world-class players since their first match – believed to be in 1914.
And yet, the most gifted player in the history of the Selecao could well be reaching his peak in perfect time for the home World Cup in 2014.
Neymar is regarded as a very special talent, a once in a generation. Whilst Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo take the plaudits in Europe, it’s this talented 20-year-old who earns rave reviews in his homeland.
As the shining star at Santos, Neymar appears willing to reject admiring glances from some of the biggest clubs in world football in order to stay in Brazil. The aim has always been to maintain form on home soil before the World Cup.
So far, the 25-cap international has been true to his word, and it’s paying off on the international stage, with 16 goals in those matches.
Whilst the Olympic gold medal slipped from Brazil’s grasp at London 2012 – one of the few accolades to elude the national team in their illustrious history – there is still plenty of reason for optimism ahead of a friendly clash against Colombia on November 14th.
Mano Menezes’s side is packed full of stars, but Neymar is the one ‘superstar’ at his manager’s disposal. A supporting cast of Hulk, Kaka and Lucas Moura is not to be under-estimated, of course, but it’s Neymar who can change the course of a match in an instant.
A comparison to Diego Maradona’s heroics for Argentina in 1986 is worthwhile, because Neymar will aim to drag his side to the trophy on the back of huge home support at all costs.
Maradona became a legend on the back of that particular achievement, and there is nothing to say that we won't hold Neymar in the same regard 26 years from now if he can repeat the trick.
Get past game 1000, and then the World Cup is his oyster.
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