For most humans, being labeled the next Pelé would be a curse. Apply that label to somebody in their mid-to-late teens, and their life will be in shambles before they hit 21. It’s just not a burden most would carry that well.
Neymar, however, has worn that label since his early years at Pele’s old club, Santos. Pelé himself, never bored of his own opinion, couldn’t stop running his mouth about Neymar. When the Seleçao legend was famously asked if Lionel Messi was better than him, the single-named wonder, notorious for making horrible predictions, said that Messi isn’t even better than Neymar.
That happened when Neymar was 20, two years ago.
In case you missed Brazil’s new icon while he was still on the home front, this video can quickly get you up to speed with Santos Neymar.
As you can see: 1) Neymar’s hair situation was still a thing back in the day; and 2) Neymar was exceptional on the ball. But there were two things many people needed to resolve before anointing him the next anything, both relating to the second point. Could frail-looking Neymar cut it in Europe? And if so, could he thrive, with the same flair, in a league where he won’t get 14 hours on the ball without someone blowing him up?
We now know the answer to those questions: an emphatic head nod.
But Neymar Jr. isn’t this high on the #SG25 because he can just dazzle on the field. He’s so positioned because, at just 22 years old, he already has a voice, in real life and on social media. An actual voice that has reach.
No, not that kind of voice. This kind of voice.
He also has the kind of voice that was up on social media right after his club and country teammate, Dani Alves, had a banana thrown at him during a La Liga match last May. This was the day the hashtag #somostodosmacacos (#weareallmonkeys) was born. It swept around the world with the speed of Neymar.
If you were wondering why Neymar finds himself higher on the #SG25 rankings than his more accomplished teammate, now you should have a better sense. But in case you need something to push you over the edge:
Remember, Pelé dabbled in music, too. So maybe Neymar actually is the next Pelé.
The Fake numbers
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