World Cup Coming To An End Without Its Superstar


Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

Every World Cup has its own unique super star. It can be a striker, a prolific scorer, sometimes even a goalkeeper, someone that you just love seeing play no matter what country he plays for, but usually this category is filled by a number 10. The #10 jersey is special; it is reserved for those whose intimacy with a football is something people go through their lives without ever experiencing. This midfielder position brings upon himself the responsibility of beginning and developing a team’s offensive system. Every possession has to go through him in order for the offense to flow well. Former NY Cosmos Pelé and Maradona have immortalized the number 10, putting a lot of pressure in whomever choses to bare it. These days we have Lionel Messi, Luka Podolski, James Rodrigues – all masters of football – but no one in the Brazil 2014 World Cup wore a #10 jersey like Neymar Jr.

The Brazilian star is 22 years old, quick, intelligent, full of individual skills most players don’t even understand. On a team under the heavy scrutiny of fans and the media, he is the regarded as the last hope; he is the sole reason the Brazilian squad is still a contender. Well, was.

During the Round of 8 match against Colombia, as you might have heard by now, Neymar suffered a vertebrae injury after getting a knee to the back by Colombian defender Juan Zuniga. It’s a tough scene to watch. As Neymar laid on the field, on his stomach, with his hand on his back, fans across the country feared that the apple of their eyes might be in some serious trouble. He was. Immediately substituted by coach Scolari, Neymar was taken to the hospital and after a few exams it was determined he had suffered a fracture. Happily he is not in danger of any nerve damage, requiring only rest for 4-6 weeks until he is fully recovered. As a person, he will be fine. As a player, he will not.

This was Neymar’s cup. He was the one supposed to take over the competition and lead the hosts to the 6th world championship, his name was the one to be remembered for years and years when the subject of this World Cup came up – and now he has to watch it unfold from home. When interviewed at the age of 16 back in Santos, where he played for the junior team, Neymar Jr. stated that his only dream was not to make millions or to be famous, but to play in a World Cup Finals game – and an irresponsible act of violence took that from him.

The Brazilian squad will regroup and use all the gas left in their tanks to honor him and somehow make up for his absence, but it’s going to be difficult. They face Germany, the strongest team in the competition, and without the genius of Neymar they will probably fall.

As football fans we can only hope that he fully recovers, making a triumphant come back in 2018, where Brazil will surely contend once again. People say that at the age of 26 a player is at his best, unifying youth and athleticism with experience and mental focus. Neymar didn’t get to take over this world cup and play in the final match, but his career is only starting. A kid with so much heart, charisma and skills can only succeed in life. Well, also as a fan, I think he already has.