Brazillian star Neymar has done the unexpected and bashed those trying to give him honour as the best player right after Pele.
The Brazilian has largely lived to the hype that’s followed him throughout his career and established himself as one of the highest-profile players in world football.
While this elite status already comes with a greater than usual level of scrutiny, his nationality only compounds the pressure.
Neymar has been considered the natural heir to Pele since he was a teenager and he’s done a reasonable job of doing so.
But even with an enviable haul of club honours to his name, the Paris Saint-Germain star is reluctant to compare himself with any of Brazil’s finest – let alone the king himself.
“I can’t really decide who the second or first best player is after Pele,” Neymar told Goal.
“For me, we are all important. In the past I’ve said that every one of us has made history, every one played in a different way and every one has been important at a certain moment.
“There are names that will forever remain etched in history, there will always be important Brazilians in football. Ronaldo, Romario, Ronaldinho Gaucho, Kaka, Zico, Rivaldo – I could go on forever.
“There are many players who were important in their own unique way, that’s why it’s so difficult to just pick one.
“Roberto Carlos, for example, wasn’t an attacker but is still a player with an incredible story. So to me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to rank the best players in the ‘post-Pele era’.
“I have a lot of respect for the players who made history in the past, all the players that have been called up to the Brazil national team, because they are an example to me, they are my idols. Every single one of them is important.”
Neymar might feel putting Pele and himself in the same bracket is premature, but the conversation is unlikely to die down anytime soon.
That said, the former Barcelona man appreciates he still has time to stake his claim as a genuine all-time great.
“I’m still writing my story. I’m only 27 years old and still have a few years ahead of me. It’s obvious that up until this point I’ve been able to reach some important milestones, but I have no intention to stop here.”