The Brazil and Barcelona star is the greatest magician we have now in world football, writes Yvens Tiamou
Brazil, and their endless supply of great magicians: Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Pele, just some of the notable greats that emanated from the heart of Brazil, and now it’s the turn of Neymar, just Neymar – a solitary name, like Prince – and a prince he is on the green terrain of play.
“Spectacular du Neymar!” You are the greatest magician we have now in world football. Humiliation is your weapon and defenders are your targets. You’re a sure hit every time like a marksman with a rifle, in which you’ve more than earned your valiant stripes. Your slender frame lolls left and right with the same demeanour a bed of flowers moves on a breezy day. With your effortless strides, stepping over futile challenges from oncoming defenders, as if you were stepping over mere cracks in the pavement.
Neymar, you play with such a contagious smile on your face. When you smile, the whole stadium smiles with you in unison, but that same smile of yours also has a menacing veneer behind it. The pitch is your stage, your circus, your domain, and you grace it with such a demon-like nature.
It’s a game of “which cup is the ball in?” when performing one of your mesmerising step-overs, which they always guess wrong anyway. Despite losing all their money, they’ll still continue to play this game with you with addict-like symptoms, because you’re a true hustler, but an even better performer.
The blades of glass beneath you spread asunder as a form of respect when you go on one of your herculean runs: a respect that they’ll be reluctant to part with at first, but when you’re done spinning them from pillar to post, that very same respect they guarded so close to their chest like a newborn baby, will leave them and cling to you like a longing embrace.
But it wasn’t all an endless shower of adoration that rained onto you. No, you had your doubters. Being Brazilian you were always going to be blindsided with underhanded comments, playing your football outside of Europe. Europe, this sacred place where you need their seal of approval before they can bestow onto you the title of a great.
It was difficult to watch your games during your time in Brazil – the time zones unforgiving – but YouTube was where we watched your shows. I just knew kids would grow up imitating you in their playgrounds, the empty roads – wherever they could possibly play.
At Santos, you were King, the country was forever yours, but as the world tends to go, the outsiders took notice of you, and they came to pluck you from your home. Barcelona came knocking, their own King, Lionel Messi required your services.
You arrived with a funky haircut, flamboyancy seeping out the crevices of your personality. You customarily wore your socks over the knees, a statement that I’ve only seen Thierry Henry fashion. You were never shy to bring forward your religious side either. On several occasions you gave ceremonious thanks to God’s son: you even sported a pretty cool “100% Jesus” bandana after you captured your first Champions League trophy. Who could possibly hate you?
Accused of being just a bag of flashy tricks, Neymar, you more than earned your keep. You would outlast the expiry dates the doubters had placed on you. The substance came alongside with the style, in holy matrimony. You and football were the perfect marriage for us to love, engrossed in it like we are for trashy reality TV shows.
You were later joined by Luis Suarez, and together with Lionel Messi, you three became the deadliest attacking line in world football, which must be some sort of divine intervention considering the proximity of all of your hometowns. FunFact: Did you know you can run a straight line through birthplaces of Messi, Neymar, and Suarez? So maybe it was meant to be for you guys to terrorise defences for years to come.
We know how otherworldly Messi is, but you showed extra-terrestrial symptoms in that second leg of the Champions League. When the world reluctantly tuned in to watch the impossible – overturning a four-goal deficit – it was you who forced them to take notice. The wall of impossibility, a wall that should’ve never been breached, climbed or even stained, but you, for 90 minutes chipped at it insidiously.
Even when Edison Cavani provided the supposable “dagger” to Barcelona hearts, you answered back with a sumptuous free-kick. You added another goal to your name, and then… the moment of madness came to fruition.
Your perfectly lofted ball evaded the deep PSG defence and found Sergei Roberto who completed the historic turnaround. As the whole of Barcelona ran after Roberto in celebration, it was you who made it possible. At the final whistle Messi stood atop the advertising board, almost swallowed up in the fervour, yet raucous swamp of Barcelona fans below him. Begrudgingly, I felt that it should’ve been you up there, and Messi amongst the fans looking up at you in blissful glee.
“Spectacular Du Neymar!” I will come watch your show again, and again.