KEIR RADNEDGE reporting from RIO DE JANEIRO
—- Neymar goes under the surgeon’s knife on Friday but Brazil and his new club, Barcelona, need not worry.
There is clearly very little wrong with a player who collected not only a winner’s medal in the Confederations Cup but awards as man of the match and top player in the tournament – as well as the bronze boot as third-top scorer.
The 21-year-old who is about to quit Santos and Brazilian club football for the Spanish champions has been troubled by sore throats and will undergo minor surgery which was delayed deliberately until after the Cup.
The throat issue did not prevent Neymar expressing his pride in Brazil’s achievement and his confidence about his imminent adventure in European football.
Starting with the Confed Cup and his awards, Neymar said: “I’m very happy for everything that’s happened during this Confederations Cup and especially this man of the match award after the final.
“It’s something very special but all 11 members of the team should have got it. I could not have won it without my team-mates.
“I believe Brazil have shown the world what the Brazilian national team is really all about and we must be respected as much as any of the world’s other main countries.
“We have just had a great victory over the best team in the world with some of the best players in the world. We didn’t hide, we hit the ground running and played very strongly . . . even better than we expected.”
Neymar felt no conflict because Spain’s team contained many of the Barcelona players who are about to become his team-mates.
He said: “I respect and admire them very much. But on the pitch I’m defending my country, my team-mates and my family so I have to give them a hard time.
“As for Barcelona, I hope I adapt very quickly. It will be a different sort of challenge but it’s something good. I’m going to one of the biggest teams in the world where there are great players so I’m very happy then, next year, I hope I can have a great World Cup.”
Neymar was equally sure-footed in replying to a question about how he felt able to celebrate when police had been firing year gas at protesters outside the Maracana.
He said: “It’s difficult episode, these fights outside the stadium.
“It’s bad that many people can get hurt and injured but I don’t know anything about what was happening so the celebrations were for the people who were inside the stadium.”