There is no stage like the World Cup. It’s an easy cliche to say about any major sporting event, but it’s really true about this tournament. Soccer’s unparalleled global popularity and importance means that careers and legacies, even those of the game’s most talented and skilled players, can be defined by a few games every four years. No other team sport has nearly as important a competition.
For some players, the unique stakes of the World Cup can be a bit of a drag. You think of a guy like Lionel Messi as the greatest player to ever live and win everything in his club career, and you want to scoff at the idea that you can’t win a tournament due to chance and whim. non-individual sports would leave all sorts of blemishes on his career. In fact, it makes perfect sense to get away with such thinking, but logic rarely plays a role in determining what is important in sports. What makes the World Cup important is the number of fans you see openly crying in the stands at every tournament, the number of players whose career decisions are always made with the national team in mind, and the whole attitude of a nation. The sport of soccer can vary according to a tournament performance. However, there is a flip side to this coin. Because just as the World Cup can be a millstone for a player, team or country, it can be for anyone with a pair of wings at any time.
Richarlison got off to a flying start during Brazil’s 2-0 group stage win over Serbia on Thursday. The Select‘s starting striker scored both of Brazil’s goals in a dominant team performance, a second strike that will live long in the memory:
Even without context, this is a goal worthy of poetry. These two touches have everything to love about football. In the first, a clumsy game that raises the ball to a seemingly unmanageable height, you see the chaos turn into a game that requires 22 players to run around a huge court and try to direct the ball into a small net using only their strength. leg. In the second, a spinning scissor kick creates a perfectly placed and paced shot, you see the physical and mental genius players must find within themselves to tame all this chaos. The ability to create such a goal is the reason the game exists in the first place.
The context is also very important here. Richarlison has been eyeing this World Cup for years now, and for good reason. Despite being an excellent forward – you have to be one to be a starting No.9 for Brazil – Richarlison has had very few truly meaningful games in his club career. Prior to his move to Tottenham last summer, he had only played Premier League games for Watford and Everton, two non-contenders that would have required him to apply his immense talent only in lower league battles rather than the Champions League campaigns his talent deserved. Even for the best players in the world, the climb from one level of success to another can be long, slow and halting. But no player can be plucked from the purity of a club career like the World Cup, which comes every four years and establishes a fast track to heroism for any player good enough to take the field.
Over the past few seasons, no one has understood this fact better than Richarlison. Evidence of this was how hard and well he played every time he was called up to the national team, earning him a decent starting spot in a team full of world-class strikers, one of whom was objectively better and more successful. from him. Tears streamed down Richarlison’s face after picking up a calf injury against Tottenham a few weeks ago, when it was feared he would be ruled out of the World Cup.
I think it’s fair to say that for Richarlison, this World Cup has a lot to do with what others expect of him, rather than what he expects of himself. Spend enough time watching Richarlison play football, or listening to him talk about it, and you’ll be amazed at how passionately he seeks the moment. It was this drive that gave such a pallor to his pre-Tottenham club career – here was a player who wanted nothing more than to find greatness and claim it for himself, toiling away at teams with no hope of guiding him in that direction. All this makes Richarlison the type of player perfectly suited to take advantage of the unique opportunities the World Cup has to offer. Only in football can you go from being a good but overlooked player on bad teams, to solid rotation play on a good team, to starring in the world’s biggest sporting event so quickly.
While the World Cup brings us good and bad, nothing fills the heart like seeing a player like Richarlison seize the moment. It has a transformative power that cannot be found in any other sporting event. Richarlison came into Thursday’s match against Serbia as a good player still looking for a moment worthy of his talent, and he left as anything but. The whole Brazilian team, like his family, mobbed him on the holiday he returns home and celebratesand as fans in attendance get hysterical, Richarlison was becoming something bigger than before. Just two touches and one ball found the back of the net.