Neymar is without question one of the greatest footballers in history.
The Brazilian superstar has dazzled at club level with Santos, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, scoring goals for fun and winning trophies galore.
Neymar is also one of the few elite-level footballers in the game today who’s thrived just as much on the international stage as he has done in the domestic scene.
In his 111 appearances for Brazil’s senior team, the outrageously skilful forward has netted 68 goals and contributed 48 assists – a record that almost beggars belief.
The only downside to Neymar’s international career at this point in time is the fact that he’s yet to triumph at a major international tournament.
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Brazil’s captain missed the 2019 Copa America victory due to injury and couldn’t secure South American football’s biggest prize this summer, with Neymar and the Selecao losing 1-0 to Lionel Messi‘s Argentina in the final.
However, Neymar himself would no doubt tell you that he has tasted glory on international duty.
That’s because the 29-year-old was the catalyst for Brazil winning a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Neymar played every minute of the country’s campaign on home turf, scoring four goals and producing three assists.
And after netting in the final against Germany, the global icon stepped up in the shootout to convert the match-winning penalty.
Neymar’s reaction after rippling the back of the net was the definition of ’emotional’ and it proves that winning gold at the Olympics is – and always will be – a huge deal for footballers.
Neymar’s winning penalty vs Germany at Rio 2016
If anyone ever tries to tell you that a footballer’s success at the Olympics is meaningless, make sure to let them know that they are dead wrong.
It means the world to some of the very best players the sport has ever seen and that includes six-time Ballon d’Or winner, Messi.
The diminutive Argentine won gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and back in 2017, the man himself ranked that success as the finest of his distinguished career.
“The Olympic gold in 2008 is the win that I value the most,” Messi said, per NBC Sports. “Because it is a tournament that you may only play in once in your life and involves many athletes from different disciplines.”
Messi may have changed his mind now after Argentina’s 2021 Copa America win, but that doesn’t make the words above from the Barcelona superstar above any less powerful.