According to the Brazil’s great 1982 hero Zico, his Brazilian compatriot Neymar is on the same level as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The Brazilian star failed to make any significant impact at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Besides, he also failed to mark his place among the top 10 of the 2018 Ballon d’Or.
However, Zico, the director at Kashima Antlers, does believe that his Brazilian compatriot has the same kind of talent as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Besides, the Brazilian legend also believes that Neymar has the potential to be the greatest footballer of all time. Neymar, on the other hand, is now being featured as a traditional ‘Number 10’ at PSG under manager Thomas Tuchel, although he plays mostly on the wing.
While talking about Neymar and his role as a traditional Number 10, Zico said to Omnisport “Neymar doesn’t play in this role [as a 10],” and then added “He is a wing player, and always has been. They give him a number 10 because there is a big meaning in life of a great name of the Brazilian team.”
The Brazilian legend said “Maybe, the only one that went out of this was Romario, a born striker that had the option [to play as an] 11. But, every forward from every club chose the number 10 because it was the big representing of the great name of the club. The clubs themselves made a point of it.”
He then clarified “So, the number 10 jersey had a weight, not only in the national team, but in Brazil. The big reference. He was the team’s star, so he received the number 10,” and added “I think Neymar has this situation, [it is] obvious he has more pressure. Every great player is more outstanding in the victory, but has more pressure in defeats. But he is an exceptional player. He has a talent like few in world football. I put him at the same level as Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi.”
While talking about the true value of the ‘Number 10’ jersey, Zico said “It is not the jersey of the Brazilian team, it is Pele’s jersey,” and further he added “The biggest player of the world’s football history! This is the problem.” Zico said “The pressure is this: everybody thinks that who wears this shirt has to do what Pele has done! It’s a cowardice with any player!” He then further added “The problem is – do not get carried away by this, or try to compare to this. The problem is letting people know that you play different, in another way and with different characteristics.”