Neymar must match web hype – kevin garside
Is there a greater responsibility in the game than a yellow shirt with a No 10 on the back? Enshrined in the ethereal brilliance of Pele, the balletic power of Zico, the mercurial wizardry of Ronaldinho, the No 10 of Brazil demands of the incumbent attributes that only a few possess. It is the most significant shirt in football because it represents the game’s highest values and, as often as not, has been worn by the defining player of the epoch.
This player brings not only technical gifts but mystery. He bewilders because he conceives the game in a different way to others.
He shapes a game, controls the tempo, sets the standard, scores the goals, and the hardest part of all, he carries on his back the hopes and dreams of the most successful football nation on earth.
Word of his prowess spread via the web, where the avaricious appetites of young lads high on football fantasy are fed via the growth of social media and the posting of links to YouTube. Ask any teenage boy with a mastery of PlayStation who is "the man" and Neymar’s name is first on their lips. This kid was invisible to the mainstream audience in Europe but not to the cyberspace aficionados.
Neymar’s challenge is even greater. He comes to a team built around a player in Pele’s class, Messi — and that is not a claim made lightly — another in Iniesta who is as accomplished as any has a right to be, and a system that frames individualism within a team ethic like few in the history of football.
Everyone benefits if Neymar proves worthy of the accolades that accompanied his journey to Europe, but how much easier would his assimilation have been had the world-beater claims followed the proof rather than preceded it?