Brazil forward Neymar has given millions of Brazilians hope by stating that Qatar may not be his last appearance at the World Cup.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward scored two goals in three games in the tournament as Brazil were knocked out via penalties by Croatia in the quarter finals. The end of the road for Brazil hit many as Neymar's words from 2021 reverberated around Brazil and the world.
"I think it’s my last World Cup,” the former Barcelona forward said to DAZN in 2021. “I see it as my last because I don’t know if I have the strength of mind to deal with football any more.
“So I’ll do everything to turn up well, do everything to win with my country, to realise my greatest dream since I was little. And I hope I can do it.”
As the tournament drew nearer, he gave another interview, hinting at the possibility of him changing his mind. "I'll play like it's the last," he said to Globo in November. "I talk to my father, we always talk, to play each game as if it were the last because you don't know what will happen tomorrow.
"I can't guarantee that I'll play another [World] Cup. I honestly don't know. I'll play like it's the last. Maybe I'll play another one, maybe not. It depends. There's going to be a coaching change and I don't know if that coach will like me."
But after feeling the pulse of the world and the love of Brazilian fans especially after picking up an injury that kept him from playing the last two group games with his team, the 30-year-old seems to have backtracked on his initial decision.
Speaking to reporters after calming down following his outburst of emotion at being eliminated from the tournament, Neymar said: "It's too early to say that. I've no clear ideas yet—I can't guarantee anything."
Tite has stated previously that he will be stepping down from his role as Brazil's manager after the tournament with immediate effect. However, it is unlikely that any new coach who steps into the role will want to do away with Neymar.
Neymar will be 33 by the time the 2026 tournament comes around which could still see him at the peak of his powers. In contrast, the game's biggest stars will have aged out, leaving Neymar to be the most influential player over 30 by that time.
It will also provide Neymar with his clearest shot to the title.
The coming years will be interesting to witness.