The road to European redemption has been a long and tortuous one for Neymar.
But the enigmatic Brazilian has the chance to reach his ultimate destination in Lisbon tonight when he leads Paris Saint Germain into battle with Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
You have to be special to be known by one name. The greatest of all, Pele, who was Neymar's idol growing up, did more than most to justify the privilege.
But despite all his undoubted talent, the harsh truth is that Brazil's current golden boy cannot hold a torch to the man who won three World Cups and is still regarded as one of the finest to ever pull on a pair of boots.
The problem is that Neymar has been hard to like.
In 2019 alone his career was dogged by a host of controversies that included him missing the Copa America due to injury, being accused of raping someone in a Parisian hotel room and being stripped of the Brazil captaincy after hitting a PSG fan who had dared to criticise him following a defeat in the Coupe de France final to Rennes.
Frequent return trips to Brazil for carnivals coupled with regular parties in Paris (his 27th birthday was celebrated on crutches) point to someone who loves being a sporting icon more than the game that has put him on a pedestal in the first place.
There have been fall outs with team-mates, while last season Neymar was banned by Uefa from the Champions League for three games after clashing with match officials following PSG's home defeat to Manchester United in the last 16 that saw another one of his European dreams die.
Neymar hadn't even played in the game. The ban was later reduced to two matches, meaning he missed the start of this season's competition.
It's fair to say his time in Paris has not always been filled with romance and the burden of being the most expensive footballer on the planet at a cost of £200m has weighed heavily on his tattooed shoulders.
But he now finds himself on the cusp of being able to write a love story that would see PSG become kings of Europe for the first time and cement his place as a genuine great of the game.
Winning the Champions League is how all the best should be measured and Neymar appears to be profiting from a positive change in attitude and application to the game that has made him rich and famous.
He showed this in the semi-final triumph over RB Leipzig when he produced graft as well as greatness – and he will have to do the same again if Thomas Tuchel's men are to overcome the might of Bayern. At the age of 28, has he finally grown up?
Neymar's history of diving and histrionics have meant he's never been adored by the masses like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been.
But if he can lead PSG to European glory then some people, albeit grudgingly, might just learn to love him after all.
Neymar determined to secure PSG glory ahead of Bayern Champions League clash
What was Harry Maguire thinking?
The warning signs had been there less than a week earlier when photos emerged of Ross Barkley needing help walking, sorry staggering, through the narrow streets of Greek island Mykonos following one too many ouzos.
Anyone with half a brain knows what Mykonos is famous for. The younger generation go there for one thing, and it isn't the whitewashed churches, museums and quaint fishing harbour.
Now Maguire has seen the inside of a police cell after spending the night in one, following a drunken brawl in which he is alleged to have attacked local officers when they tried to arrest him.
Maguire is 27, so he still qualifies for an infamous Club 18-30 holiday. He is also entitled to a break to let his hair down following a long and gruelling season with Manchester United.
But at his age and with his wealth, he should know better than to choose a party island full of drunken people who will instantly recognise him. It's a recipe for disaster.
Maguire earned huge respect following his pivotal role in getting footballers to contribute millions from their wages to the NHS in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now he is in danger of losing all that goodwill and then some, with this latest tawdry reminder of just how dimwitted footballers can be sometimes.
GOOD WEEK FOR
Joe Hart – Just when he looked finished, the former England goalkeeper has secured a free transfer to Tottenham. We thought it was all over for him, but it might not be.
Tiger Woods – The golf legend got to caddie for his son Charlie, who appears to be a chip off the old block after winning a junior tournament in Florida by five shots.
Zinedine Zidane – While Barcelona continue to implode, the manager of their bitter rivals Real Madrid has spent the week sunning himself in Ibiza and looking like someone without a care in the world.
BAD WEEK FOR
Pat Rice – The Arsenal legend has lost his scouting role after 56 years at the club as the financial cull continues. Owner 'Silent Stan' Kroenke strikes again.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – Manchester United's Europa League defeat to Sevilla was the Norwegian's third semi-final loss of the season. He has to learn how to win the games that count most.
Tommy Makinson – The England and St Helens winger faces a long ban after being placed on report for allegedly grabbing the testicles of Castleford opponent Liam Watts.
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