Every time a World Cup tournament comes up we expect superstars of the game to arrive at the tournament and thrive for their nations.
The first real superstar I had the opportunity to see and appreciate properly was Argentina’s Diego Armando Maradona, at the 1986 Mexico hosted World Cup.
And he really lived up to the billing, driving a not so talented Argentina team to the title and dominating the whole tournament.
A man apart
To date, I have not seen one player’s name be associated so much with a World Cup tournament like Maradona’s name is with Mexico86.
The closest we have had is probably Brazil’s Romario with USA’94 and Ronaldo da Lima with France’98.
Although he was upstaged by Zinedine Zidane in the final itself, with his two goals as France run out 3-0 winners over Brazil at the Stade de France.
Since then, team work rather than individual brilliance had taken over. With Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo unable to light up the last two World Cup tournaments as expected.
At the Russia 2018WC, a host of stars will be looked up to set the tournament alight.
Maradona was just 25 years when he mesmerized opponents and wowed worldwide audiences.
Many stars are in a similar age to that, whom we hope to wow crowds.
Neymar Jr, Brazil, 26 years, Eden Hazard, Belgium, 27 years, Antoine Griezzman, France, 27 years Paul Pogba, France, 25 years, Harry Kane, England, 24 years etc, etc.
Can they live up to the billing? Neymar Jr has already shown at the Brazil 2014WC, that he has the mental toughness to deliver at the top level.
And to me, probably Neymar Junior the most likely to take over the mantle of the ageing Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, as the leading player in the world.