Former Brazil and Real Madrid great Ronaldo thinks that although the pressure will be on Neymar to deliver for his country at next month’s World Cup in Qatar, he will be supported by the best team mates of his international career so far.
Ronaldo is no stranger to pressure on the global stage, having been a part of two World Cup winning squads with Brazil and most influential in their last triumph in Japan and Korea in 2002.
Neymar has often carried the hopes of a nation but has been unable to lead Brazil into a World Cup final, with the team crashing out in the quarter-finals to Belgium in the previous tournament in 2018.
However, Ronaldo backed the 30-year-old to flourish with a plethora of talent around him to help him out.
“The pressure will be over Neymar no matter what, he is Brazil’s superstar and it doesn’t matter who is playing along him,” Ronaldo told Reuters in Madrid on Friday before the world premiere of his documentary film ‘The Phenomenon’, a DAZN Original set to be released later this month.
“I love Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo, Raphinha and think this new generation of talent will give him the best supporting cast he has ever had with the Brazil national team.
“This is definitely a better team than the ones Brazil had in the last three World Cups. But the responsibility always lies with the biggest star, who is Neymar.”
Ronaldo is the symbol of Brazil’s last World Cup title, having scored both goals as his team beat Germany 2-0 in the 2002 final in Japan.
He was also part of the squad that won the World Cup in 1994 at 17-years-old and has been named FIFA World Player of the Year three times and won two Ballon d’Or awards.
But Ronaldo said that he agreed to make a movie about his life because he felt the need to solve the untold mystery of the 1998 World Cup final.
Ronaldo went into the tournament in France, 1998 off the back of a stunning 34-goal debut season with Inter Milan and had scored four times up to the final with Brazil looking unstoppable.
However, something happened on the eve of the game with his health that changed the mood in the changing room. Reports circulated before the match in Paris that he was taken off the team sheet, before being restored. Brazil were thumped 3-0 by hosts France.
“It is a story that I wanted to tell with my own words what happened,” Ronaldo said.
“I feel it is the biggest story of my career and I thought that I held it too long by myself that I needed to share with other people.
“The moment was now and (being in) Madrid, on the eve of El Clasico on Sunday, was the perfect occasion to make it happen.”
Ronaldo played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona in his career and scored twice against Real in the 1996-97 campaign. Years later, wearing white, he would punish Barca up to four times in the biggest clash in Spanish football.
“It’s a sensation like no other. The nerves, the tension, the excitement, it gets to you in a way that no other game does because of the rivalry,” Ronaldo said ahead of the LaLiga clash at the weekend.
“But when the game starts, you forget about it and it’s just soccer.
“I feel really proud watching Vinicius, Rodrygo, Raphinha and all the Brazilians having success with Real and Barca. Sunday’s game will be amazing.”