Rio de Janeiro: Brazil’s Olympic team’s coach Rogerio Micale is confident captain Neymar will eventually become the world’s best player, but warned the country’s football fans to show more respect to him or risk losing him to retirement.
Neymar’s FC Barcelona colleague Lionel Messi retired from international football in June after Argentina was beaten in the Copa America Centenario football tournament and after enduring a fractious relationship with fans and media in his Argentina for the best part of a decade.
Neymar was booed and jeered in Sunday’s goalless draw with Iraq in Brasilia at the Rio Olympics, and with fans calling for him to be replaced by Brazil’s women’s team captain Marta, Micale sprung to his captain’s defence.
“Neymar will become the best player in the world, so we need to respect him more. He is still young. I know that there have been times when he behaved in a way that we may not like but, at his age, wouldn’t we do the same things that he does, if we had everything he has?,” Micale was quoted as saying by goal.com on Tuesday.
“If we don’t respect our best players, they might not want to be with us anymore. Marta is how old? 31?… We can say that she is a sensational player, and she rightfully has all our recognition, but Neymar is a future world beater.”
“Marta and Neymar are two great Brazilian footballers. But Neymar is 24 and still hasn’t’ fully matured. A player generally peaks at 28, both physically and mentally. Neymar has had to live with the pressure of being a leader since he was 17-years-old.”
Despite two bitterly disappointing goalless draws in Group A so far, Brazil know a victory over Denmark on Wednesday will guarantee their place in the second round.
“There have been questions asked, but I still think we have some great players. We need to work hard because we depend only on ourselves for qualification,” Micale concluded.