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Neymar is Brazil's Most Experienced Player at World Cups
06/12/2014 - 10h04
FROM SÃO PAULO
At the age of 22 years and four months, Neymar carries the burden of being Brazil's best player at the 2014 World Cup.
This tournament is going to be his first. Not even Pelé went through it - when he debuted in 1958 at the age of 17, he was not yet a major player in the country.
But let's not call him unexperienced. It is the opposite.
The striker became Brazil's main athlete in the last four years and today (12) he will play game number 50 wearing the jersey of the national team.
No other line player has participated in so many Brazilian matches before debuting in a World Cup. No even Pelé (six in 1958), Ronaldo (39 in 1998) and Romário (26 in 1990), all heroes of Brazilian victories.
"He won almost everything when he played for Santos. Now he plays for Barcelona and he is been an outstanding athlete since before he was 18 years old. Neymar doesn't lack experience", said technical coordinator Carlos Alberto Parreira.
Parreira was the coach who, in 1994, bet on 17-year-old Ronaldo but whom didn't let him play. "Ronaldo was a kid. Nowadays, Neymar is a grown-up."
The No. 10 shirt from Luiz Felipe Scolari's team will also be the youngest to wear that number in a world tournament since Pelé. He is also the fourth player in the squad to wear the Brazilian jersey more often.
He is only behind Júlio César (80), Daniel Alves, (76), and Maicon (68); all of them are over 30 years old.
"I'm mature to be anxious. Before the 2010 Libertadores final [playing for Santos], I went to bed at five, six in the morning. Now it's different. I'm already used to playing for the national team", said Neymar.
Only the goalkeeper Dida played more games for the national team before entering the pitch at a World Cup–they were 86 in total.
However, he had already participated in other two Word Cups, in 1998 and 2002, as a reserve, and played his first Cup match at the age of 32, 10 years older than Neymar.
His achievements show that, if he has a stable career, he will be one of the greatest to play for the national squad.
Neymar debuted in August 2010, in a victory over the USA. He was alongside his team-mate Paulo Henrique Ganso, both from Santos. Ganso, however, was left behind while Neymar established himself as the star that promised to be.
It is not impossible to think Neymar could surpass Cafu and become the one to play more matches for Brazil. He could achieve that: in eight years' time, at the age of 30, he will have played 150 games.
Whenever Brazil won the World Cup, there was a star. Pelé (1958 and 1970), Garrincha (1958 and 1962), Romário (1994) and Ronaldo (2002). This one belongs to Neymar.
Translated by JULIANA CALDERARI