Neymar scored three times at Cruzeiro over the weekend and the home fans chanted his name as their own team went down 4-0.
Part of the reason was disgust with their own team – the fans also chanted “Wee Team, Wee Team” at their own players – but it’s nevertheless highly unusual to see partisan supporters so openly praising a rival, even one as gifted as the Santos superstar.
I’ve been to literally hundreds of football matches to support my team and I can’t remember ever chanting the name of an opponent. Applauding their brilliance, perhaps, but even that happened only on very rare occasions.
In fact, I can only think of two players before now who were worthy of such an honour. Garrincha, when he played for Botafogo back in the 1950s, and Ronaldinho Gaucho, when he was at the top of his game for Barcelona.
That puts Neymar’s performance into context.
Curiously, I’ve seen him play much better than he did on Saturday.
But take a look for yourself, here’s the goals: