Brazil's exciting young forward Neymar called on fickle home fans to get behind the team at the World Cup, saying they could be the most important "player" in the drive for a record sixth championship.
Brazil's Neymar during a press conference at the Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (EPA Photo)
Brazil are widely fancied to win the World Cup for the first time on home soil but were jeered by fans during a lacklustre performance in a warm-up friendly against Serbia last week and are often booed at home games if they are playing below par.
Quick and skilful, and in many ways the face of this World Cup, Neymar and his team mates face intense pressure with many Brazilians seeing anything but a title victory as a failure.
He said he was anxious to get started and encouraged supporters to do their part too.
"We are expecting a lot from the 12th player, it may be our main player," the 22-year-old told a news conference on the eve of the opening game against Croatia on Thursday.
"If the fans are 100% behind the national team the entire game, it is going to be difficult to beat Brazil," he said, sitting next to coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Neymar, who has scored 31 goals in 49 games for Brazil, said he had no interest in being the best player at the finals unless they won the Cup.
"I don't want to be the best player. I don't want to be the top goalscorer ... Individually whatever has to happen will happen, but what I most want is to be a champion with my team," Neymar told reporters.
He joked around with Scolari but also showed signs of nerves, chewing his nails and looking down at the floor while his coach answered questions at the packed news conference.
When encouraged to ask Scolari a question, Neymar joked: "Am I going to play tomorrow? Just so that I can sleep well."
Laughing, Scolari said he would have to think about it, before adding: "Sleep well, Neymar."
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