Neymar had already earned a reputation as a precocious talent – reportedly attracting a 35 million-euro bid from Chelsea – but Dunga inists the then 18-year-old was not ready to play in football`s premier tournament, reports Xinhua.
“I wasn`t right and I wasn`t wrong,” Dunga said in an interview with Brazilian television station Sportv.”
“He was a player who the previous December had been a reserve for Santos. He started to play as a starter for them in January and our last match before the World Cup squad was announced in March.”
After cementing his place in Santos` first team in January 2010, Neymar scored 14 goals in 19 matches in the Sao Paulo state championship. In April, he netted five times in the team`s 8-1 defeat of Guarani in the Brazilian Cup.
Such form prompted former Selecao greats like Pele, Romario and Zico to publicly call for the teenager`s inclusion in Brazil`s squad. But Dunga had other ideas.
“The story that we have often seen in Brazil is that players with only a handful of matches have never really lived up to expectations in the World Cup,” said Dunga, who is currently working as a television commentator.
“In 1966, we had players who in 1970 were much better, but in 1966 they didn`t have experience. And Brazil performed badly in 1966.”
“We took our decision (in 2010) based on that and the team that we had built. Now we`re seeing a different Neymar. He is the biggest name in the Brazilian team and this is his moment. He is playing in Europe and Brazil is expecting big things of him in the hope that he can help the team win the World Cup.”
Dunga was sacked after Brazil`s quarter-final exit from the 2010 tournament.
Neymar won his first Brazil cap under Mano Menezes less than a month later, scoring in the team`s 2-0 friendly victory over the US.