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At 25, Neymar targeting Brazil goal record, World Cup success

Neymar, the Barcelona striker, hopes to become the top scorer for his country, dreams of leading Brazil to 2018 World Cup trophy

football Updated: Feb 06, 2017 18:18 IST
FC Barcelona's Neymar celebrates after scoring a penalty during a Copa del Rey, 16 round, second leg, between FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
FC Barcelona's Neymar celebrates after scoring a penalty during a Copa del Rey, 16 round, second leg, between FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)(AP)

Neymar may only be a part of the famed MSN trio but he has achieved plenty of success on his own.

On the day he turned 25 (February 5), the forward revealed that he now wanted to become his national side’s all-time top scorer and win the 2018 World Cup. Neymar currently has 50 goals for Brazil and sits fourth in the list behind Romario (55), Ronaldo (62) and Pele (77).

In an interview with Red Bull Content Pool, Neymar revealed that he wanted to keep setting records for the national side. “It would be a big honour for me; it’s a dream I have to keep playing for the Brazilian football team, to score goals and help the team the best way I can. And I hope I’m able to keep scoring, keep setting records. That makes me happy,” he said.

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“I don’t want to be better than anyone. All I want is to be better than myself. For me, that’s what really matters,” he added.

The Barcelona forward was ruled out of the 2014 World Cup semifinal clash with Germany (which Brazil lost 1-7) because of a fractured vertebra suffered in the quarterfinal victory over Colombia.

Having been named captain of the national side after the World Cup, Neymar led Brazil in two major tournaments --- the 2015 Copa America and the 2016 Olympics. He did not play the Copa America Centenario last year because of an agreement between his club Barcelona and the Brazilian football federation.

Brazil’s campaign at the Rio Olympics was highly successful with Neymar scoring the winning goal in shootout to help the hosts win their first Olympic gold in men’s football. Amid criticism of his behaviour, Neymar gave up captaincy after the Olympics but has remained an important part of the team.

Read more | With Neymar’s penalty kick, Brazil win 1st football Olympic gold

He now hopes to get over the disappointment of the last World Cup by looking forward to the next one.

“I’m not anxious, but I’m already thinking about the World Cup. I am a daydreamer; I can’t stop thinking, imagining how it would be to win a World Cup. But I will work hard, so that I’m prepared for 2018,” he said.

Barcelona currently trail La Liga leaders Real Madrid by a point, but the Madrid side have two games in hand.

The Catalans suffered many early setbacks in their defence of the league title but Neymar believes they can retain the silverware.

Neymar cited Real Madrid’s late challenge that saw them put together a 12-match unbeaten run to catch up to the Catalan league leaders in the last two months of the 2015-16 season. Eventually, the Madridistas finished just one point short of Barca’s title-winning 91 points.

But the Brazilian thinks Barca, inspired by Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and himself, have plenty of time to catch up with their rivals.

“I know it’s a little hard (to win the title), but nothing is impossible. Last year, we were 12 points ahead of second-placed (team) and we won by one or two, if I’m not mistaken. But there’s still a lot of games to go, a lot of matches, anything can happen, and we’re really focused, we are thirsty for the title and we’re going for it,” Neymar said.