Youthful captain Neymar: 4 other football stars who led their teams at a young age

At 22, Neymar is one of Brazil's youngest captains of the national football team.

And if the 4-0 scoreline from last night's Brazil vs Japan friendly is anything to go by, with Neymar bagging all four goals, this Brazilian football superstar is not to be underestimated.

We round up four other football captains who rose to a leadership position for the squad at a young age:

Steven Gerrard, captain of Liverpool Football Club

Age that he became captain: 23

Gerrard, 34, was made captain of the Reds 11 years ago on Oct 15, 2003. "It's a huge honour to captain this great club," he posted on Instagram on Wednesday.

He is the longest-serving skipper in the club's history, and has "collected almost every club medal during 15 years in the first team", reported liverpoolfc.com.

Under his leadership, the Merseyside club has flourished and came nail-bitingly close to winning the Premier League title last season - the one piece of silverware that will complete Gerrard's collection.

The Premier League title has eluded the club for more than two decades.

In 2006, the star was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by the Queen for his sporting contributions.

Well-respected by his teammates and fellow players, perhaps this comment by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers last month sums up how he is viewed: "He is still in a real good physical condition, 34 years old, never needs a day's rest, and this is a genuine superstar, a world-class player consistently for so many years.

"He will play and prepare himself right the way through to the very end. When he still strikes a ball there are not many like him, both his passing and his shooting. It is something to respect and behold."

Lionel Messi, captain of the Argentinian national team

Age that he became captain: 24

The 27-year old Argentine was named his country's skipper in August 2011, and led his team to the finals of the 2014 World Cup. Although his team lost 1-0 to Germany, Messi was given the Fifa Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament.

One of the world's highest-paid sportsmen, Messi is said to earn over US$50 million (S$63.9 million) a year and is No. 4 on Forbes' list of 100 highly paid athletes.

Fellow Argentine footballer Ángel Di María has said of Messi: "He's a fantastic player, and as a person, a great friend and a very good team-mate. He's a great captain."

In The Telegraph's "10 reasons why he's the world's greatest player", Messi was lauded for his composure, ball control and power, among other traits.

Cristiano Ronaldo, captain of the Portuguese national team

Age that he became captain: 23

Ronaldo, 29, became Portugal's captain in July 2008.

Although his team crashed out of the tournament at the World Cup 2014 group stage, it was Ronaldo who scored the goals to beat Sweden in the World Cup play-offs to secure their place in Brazil.

Earlier this year, he was named Fifa World Player of the Year, his second time after 2008. He was given this honour after scoring 66 goals in 56 appearances for club and country last year.

Former Spain international Marcelino once described Ronaldo as the "most complete player in the history of football".

The 43-year-old told Sky Sports: "He can score goals with his head, with his feet. He's as strong as anyone; as powerful as anyone. He looks like he wants to keep improving. He wants to score and add more numbers to his statistics."

Fernando Torres, former captain of Atletico Madrid

Age that he became captain: 19

This Spaniard joined Atletico when he was just 11 years old, and was named captain eight years later in 2003.

Prior to being named captain, he had scored 13 goals in 29 appearances for the club in the 2002-2003 season of Spanish league La Liga. In the 2003-2004 season of that league, he shone even more, scoring 19 goals in 35 appearances - the third highest scorer in the league.

After assuming captaincy, the club also awarded him a four-year contract in 2003, and he reportedly said of the contract: "I wanted to be here and the club wanted me to continue. If this isn't the happiest moment of my life it is one of the happiest because my dream was to carry on at Atletico and I hope that these four years are just the first of many more. It's a dream, and what I wanted."

Between 2003 and 2007, offers were made by several prominent clubs for Torres but he rejected them, saying each time that his loyalty remained with Atletico.

In the 2006-07 season of La Liga, Torres scored 14 league goals for his club, before he transferred to Liverpool Football Club in July 2007.

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Sources:

Gerrard:

http://www.liverpoolfc.com/team/first-team/player/steven-gerrard, http://www.lfchistory.net/Players/Player/Profile/305, http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/liverpool-boss-brendan-rodge..., http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2775638/Steven-Gerrard...,

Messi:

http://www.biography.com/people/lionel-messi-555732, http://www.soccernews.com/di-maria-hails-messi-captaincy/147389/, http://www.forbes.com/profile/lionel-messi/, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/picturegalleries/7523132/Lione...,

Ronaldo:

http://www.biographyonline.net/sport/football/cristiano-ronaldo.html, http://www.fourfourtwo.com/sg/news/ronaldo-be-honoured-portuguese-president, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2538773/The-best-world...

Torres:

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2007/jul/04/newsstory.sport8, http://www.byfarthegreatestteam.com/posts/the-complete-footballing-histo..., http://web.archive.org/web/20090215042343/http://www.footballdatabase.co...

brynasim@sph.com.sg