Being a top-level professional athletes requires one to be in top physical shape at all times. However, football superstar Neymar has revealed that mental strength plays a big role in an athlete’s career as well, and he may personally not have enough of it to go on for much longer.
The Brazil international says that while he is only 29 years old and at the peak of his career, he is thinking about quitting international duties after the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The declaration is surprising, considering how much longer veteran players are able to extend their careers these days. In an interview with sports streaming network DAZN, the Paris Saint-Germain forward said, “I think Qatar 2022 will be my last World Cup because I don’t know if I have the mental strength to deal with football anymore.”
Even though he is thinking of closing the curtains on his international career early, it does not mean that he is less motivated to win the coveted trophy with his national team. “I will do everything to get there in good shape, to win with my country, to fulfil the dream I have had since I was a child and I hope I can achieve it.”
Neymar has had a difficult career with Brazil, despite enjoying enormous success on the club level. It may be remembered that he crashed out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil due to injury, and he is still feeling the pain from that incident.
“It was one of the worst moments of my career. It ruined my dream of playing in a World Cup, playing the semi-final, the final… I couldn’t move my feet. I started to cry uncontrollably,” Neymar said in a documentary about his career.
He recalled how devastated he was to be told that he was out of the competition, but the doctor also pointed out that he escaped serious injury. If he had broken his back just two centimetres to the side, the injury would have ended his career and he may never have walked again. Luckily, he was able to recover and is still one of the world’ top players. However, he knows that anything can happen and he needs to maintain his physical and mental fitness in order to extend his career. As such, he may not have enough to go beyond the next World Cup.