Remember Neymar, Remember Zico

The New Pele. That’s the name attached to Neymar, when he emerged from the Santos FC academy, as a talented young talent. This nickname was emphasized by Barcelona, ​​when they welcomed his arrival in 2013. Unmitigated, the label “21st Century Pele” was immediately pinned to him.

Indeed, his stylish playing style and the Santos FC factor inevitably make him compared to O Rey. Understandably, in addition to having a record of achievements and special individual abilities, Pele also orbits with The Black and White. Together with Peixe (The Fish) Neymar and Pele also won the Copa Libertadores trophy (South America’s Champions League). Pele won it in 1962 and 1963, which was complemented by a pair of Intercontinental Cup titles (now the Club World Cup) in the same year.

Meanwhile, Neymar won it in 2011, or two years before moving to Barcelona. These three Copa Libertadores titles are a record of the achievements of the Brazilian south coast club at the continental level. Regarding his career at club level, Neymar is arguably luckier than the three-time World Cup winner, because he has already won one Champions League trophy, playing at clubs of the caliber of Barcelona and PSG. The salary is also very special.

This is in contrast to Pele, who spent most of his playing career at Santos (1956-1974). Actually, the opportunity to play in Europe was there for him, but the status of “National Treasure” pinned by the Brazilian government made him only able to go abroad at the end of his career, to be precise when he defended the New York Cosmos (1975-1977). However, the difference in the fate of the two in the Brazilian national team seemed to change places. Pele won three World Cup titles, and scored 77 goals in just 92 appearances for the Selecao.

Neymar can approach this goal record (69 goals), but he has played 114 games since his debut at the age of 18. Regarding the title with the national team, this world’s most expensive player has just won the Confederations Cup trophy (2013) and the Olympic gold medal (2016). This achievement is clearly not comparable to Pele. The only thing that makes the two look the same in the Brazilian national team is the number 10 jersey they wear.

But, instead of Pele, I actually see Neymar’s fate in the Samba Team more like Zico’s, because both of them are called Pele’s successors. Their story in the Brazilian national team is more or less similar. However, he was a little luckier than “The White Pele” because he was able to win the title. They both reached the semifinals at their first World Cup, which was held in South America. Zico achieved it in Argentina (1978), while Neymar in Brazil in 2014. The difference is, Zico won the bronze medal, while Neymar finished in fourth place.

The rest are quarter-finalists. Zico experienced it in the 1982 and 1986 editions, while Neymar in the 2018 edition. This record is still likely to be improved by Neymar, if he appears at the 2022 World Cup. At the continental level, Neymar was able to help the Brazilian national team qualify for the 2021 Copa America final. Neymar’s highest achievement was better than Zico, who won bronze in the 1979 Copa America.

In terms of playing style, Neymar and Zico are also similar. In addition to being both number 10 players, both of them are equally good at dribbling, slightly different from Pele who completes it with a clinical touch in front of the opponent’s goal. Uniquely, the two “New Pele” are also quite often hit by injuries, especially after their second World Cup. After shining at the 1982 World Cup, injury problems made Zico no longer the same.

His work with the Brazilian national team, Udinese and Flamengo has been limited by injuries, especially knee injuries. As a result, the figure whose real name is Artur Antunes Coimbra has never reached an optimal point. A similar story has also approached Neymar since the 2018 World Cup. As a result, The Golden Boy did not take part, when the Brazilian national team won the 2019 Copa America. Previously, he had bad luck at the 2014 World Cup, when he suffered a back injury due to being violated by Camilo Zuniga (Colombia) .

However, Neymar completes this somber record, with a record of discipline, a hobby of partying, and his penchant for acting on the field. Regarding disciplinary problems, Ganso’s contemporaries at Santos FC were sent off by the referee, in the 2015 Copa America. At that time, Dunga’s team was eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Regarding the hobby of partying, this habit has become a cross-generational tradition for Brazilian football stars, because of the partying culture that has taken root there. Therefore, not many Brazilian players can shine, especially after passing the age of 30 years. About the hobby of acting in the field, of course, has become an open secret. There have been so many incidents or memes about it. Here, his habit of provoking opponents with individual tricks makes him really an easy target.

Looking at the situation, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar could be his last chance to show off. Incidentally, the hint about this also was given, due to the weight of the high expectations of the Brazilian football public. Indeed, the status of the world’s most expensive player and the number 10 jersey that is carried by Neymar is a burden in itself, because he holds the sacred number that Pele used to carry. Automatically, he holds the status as the successor of the King.

But, that big hope proved to be a heavy burden. If that burden fails to be paid for with the World Cup trophy in Qatar, it seems that Neymar is more worthy of being called the “New Zico” or “21st Century Zico”, rather than “New Pele” or “21st Century Pele”, because the fates of the two are very similar in the Brazilian national team. .


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