Has Neymar Fulfilled His Football Potential?

If one year of a human’s life is worth seven years of a dog’s life, what is the equation when you compare a career of a civilian with a professional footballer? On Tuesday, Neymar turned 27, and in March it will be a decade since he made his debut in international football. If he was a working stiff like us, he would be well past his prime, perhaps somewhere in his late 50’s. He is obviously nowhere near his end, but he is certainly past the halfway mark in terms of playing football.

Neymar’s Football Career

Neymar was considered the next big thing when it comes to football in Brazil. He was the latest in an extremely long line of participants who were meant to grow up quickly, deliver wins at the World Cup and claim their fame next to Robinho, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Romario, Zico, and obviously Pele. Each of these players was household names before they turned 20, each of them hyped to heaven, and each of them had the destiny of football trusted upon them.

However, in many ways, Neymar was seen as more than that. He was essentially the Answer. He was regarded as Brazil’s response to Christiano Rolando and Lionel Messi, the two footballers that have been stoking the GOAT debate for the last decade, breaking the Maradonna-Pele infinity loop. Now, as Messi and Ronaldo continue to score and dominate past their 30th birthdays there’s quite an irony as the next big thing to emerge in football is a player that Neymar sees each and every day during training: Kylian Mbappe. He turned 20 in December and already claimed a winners medal at the World Cup. This obviously raises the question: Has Neymar fulfilled his football promise?

Quickest Path to Football Immortality

The quickest path to claim immortality in the world of football is repeated success with a national team. The record is quite mixed when you look at Neymar though. He’s first Copa America witnessed Brazil getting knocked out of the quarterfinals due to penalties in 2011. He’s second only lasted a mere 180 minutes due to the fact that he was sent off and banned when he decided to go after the referee during the final whistle.

During the World Cup in 2014, Neymar wasn’t fit enough while carrying the weight of Brazilian expectations along with the Maracanazo ghost on his back. He managed a subpar performance and got to the semi-finals, but missed it. He was also part of the 7-1 devastation from Germany following a broken vertebra.

During the Russian World Cup in 2018, after yet another injury, he attempted way too much during the early stages of the tournament and Brazil was knocked out of the quarterfinals after losing to Belgium. He obviously still has plenty of opportunities to win the Copa America before he turns 30 in 2022. However, we are sure that most people would have like to see more from this brilliant player that is so highly praised by Brazil.