If you haven’t heard yet, Neymar is a big deal.
Time Magazine on Thursday included the Brazilian soccer superstar on its list of the “100 Most Influential People” of 2017.
Neymar is a key attacking player for Brazil’s national team and FC Barcelona, and many believe it’s only a matter of time before he’s recognized as the world’s best soccer player. Time placed him in the “icon” category, and he’s one of few figures from the sports world to appear in the Time 100.
David Beckham, pop icon and retired English soccer star, wrote Neymar’s “remarkable progression” toward that exalted status proves the 25-year-old belongs on Time’s prestigious annual list.
“It’s been clear ever since he signed for Brazilian team Santos at 17 that Neymar is an outstanding talent, a once-in-a-generation type of footballer who has fans on their feet whenever he gets the ball,” Beckham wrote. “I’ve always been struck by his humility. He’s respectful and wants to learn, which he proved when he arrived at Barcelona in 2013 to play alongside some of the game’s biggest stars.
“The pressure on him in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup and at last year’s Rio Olympics was likely immense as he carried the hopes of a nation. But you would not have known it. He lives to play the game, and I imagine he approaches it now the same way he did as a boy. …
“Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have a new rival to that claim — and Neymar is ready to make his move.”
Beckham is one of the few soccer stars who have transcended their sport to the point where most in the U.S. public can instantly recognize him. Perhaps Neymar also will soar to that height (if he hasn’t already done so).
Thumbnail photo via Eric Seals/USA TODAY Sports Images