Pele, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima and Cristiano Ronaldo -- none of them have managed to score a goal on their World Cup debut.
On June 16, 2006, 18-year-old Lionel Messi wearing a No 19 Argentine away blue shirt, came on as a substitute for Maxi Rodriguez in the 74th minute to score his first, and till date only, World Cup goal against Serbia-Montenegro.
On Thursday, Brazil’s Neymar da Silva Santos wore a No 10 shirt in his first World Cup match at the Arena de Sao Paulo and scored a brace to be adjudged Man of the Match against Croatia. The 22-year old Brazilian later said, “I could not have asked for more. In fact, I could not even dare to dream about this. To start off on the right path was important for the team and I’m happy I could contribute.”
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (right) and Neymar. Pic/Getty Images.
At the Arena de Sao Paulo, just below the media gallery, a small section was dedicated to Brazilian supporters where almost everyone had ‘Neymar’ written on their shirts. From the stadium to the Corinthians Itaquera metro nearby, Brazilian supporters pronounced were seen screaming ‘Ole Ole Brazil’ and ‘Ney-mar, Ney-mar.’ The screaming continued even inside the metro.
In his first World Cup match, Neymar has already scored one goal more than his idol Messi. The Argentine captain will get his chance when they play Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 15 in Rio de Janeiro. But for now, Neymar has given the battle an electrifying start!
1: Number of goals Lionel Messi has scored in two World Cup tourneys so far