Ex-Bordeaux Brazilian maestro Jussiê has spoken out in support of Neymar Jr after the Paris Saint-Germain superstar said in a documentary that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar could mark the end of his international career.
Brand-new DAZN documentary Neymar Jr. and the Line of Kings has been causing a stir in the footballing world - mainly because in it, the Brazilian superstar hints that he could retire from international duty following 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Citing doubts about having the mental strength to continue on in the media circus that his life has been since being anointed as Brazil's Great Hope at an early age, the Paris Saint-Germain no. 10 has caused a sensation.
'He's all alone'
While some may feel that this is a poor reflection on Neymar's character, Brazilian playmaker Jussiê, part of Laurent Blanc's Bordeaux side that won the Ligue 1 Uber Eats title in 2009, is sympathetic to his compatriot, understanding as he does Brazil's football-mad culture and its rapacious appetite for idols.
"I interpret his comments as those of a player and a man who is fed up. Since he was named the saviour of Brazilian football, he has had to fend for himself. He has never had a player to support him and share the pressure, like Ronaldo had Rivaldo for example. He's all alone. It's hellish," explained Jussiê. "Yet he does his best. He doesn't succeed in everything, obviously, but he tries and he respects our footballing DNA."
'We make martyrs of our idols'
A recent episode in which a famous Brazilian football commentator - who thought his mic was off - lambasted Neymar in a recent match against Colombia is the latest in a long line of trials the Parisian superstar has been through, the most notable being called a coward for missing Brazil's 7-1 World Cup semi-final hammering at the hands of Germany in Brazil in 2014 - even though he was sidelined with a fissured vertebra that almost left him a paraplegic.
"Despite his best efforts, he is being disrespected. It's over the line. In Brazil, we make martyrs of our idols, it's cultural. Neymar has been living with this enormous pressure on his shoulders for too many years," said Jussiê of the player who was signing autographs when leaving school classes aged 13. "It has reduced his longevity. He fights, he struggles, but now he's had enough. I'm not surprised that he's playing in his last World Cup at 30. It makes perfect sense. I think he'll be relieved when he stops."
'They need someone to criticise'
But will this be yet another case of a player announcing retirement only to rescind their decision?
"The president of the Federation, the coach, the fans, they will all ask him to stay," predicted Jussiê, despite the fact that he knows the machine of Brazilian football fandom will roll on in any case. "But we can always designate another 'chosen one'. For the moment, I don't see any, but the people will have to choose someone. They need someone to criticise... [laughs]."
>> PLAYER PROFILE: Neymar Jr