Neymar

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Not to be confused with Nilmar.
Neymar
Training Brazilian national team before the match against Croatia at the FIFA World Cup 2014-06-11.jpg
Neymar at a Brazil press conference during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
Personal information
Full name Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior[1]
Date of birth (1992-02-05) 5 February 1992 (age 22)[1]
Place of birth Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil[1]
Height 1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)[2]
Playing position Forward / Winger
Club information
Current team
Barcelona
Number 11
Youth career
1999–2003 Portuguesa Santista
2003–2009 Santos
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2009–2013 Santos 103 (54)
2013– Barcelona 35 (18)
National team
2009 Brazil U17 3 (1)
2011 Brazil U20 7 (9)
2012 Brazil U23 7 (4)
2010– Brazil 60 (42)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 1 November 2014.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 12 November 2014

Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (Portuguese pronunciation: [nejˈmaʁ dɐ ˈsiwvɐ ˈsɐ̃tus ˈʒũɲoʁ]; born 5 February 1992), commonly known as Neymar or Neymar Jr., is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for Spanish club FC Barcelona and is the captain for the Brazil national team. He plays as a forward or winger.

At the age of 19, Neymar won the 2011 South American Footballer of the Year award, after coming third in 2010.[3] He followed this up by winning it again in 2012. In 2011 Neymar received nominations for the FIFA Ballon d'Or, where he came 10th, and the FIFA Puskás Award for Goal of the Year, which he won.[4] He is known for his acceleration, dribbling skills, finishing and ability with both feet. His playing style has earned him critical acclaim, with fans, media and former players drawing comparison to former Brazil forward Pelé, who has called Neymar "an excellent player", while Ronaldinho has stated "he will be the best in the world".[5][6][7]

Neymar joined Santos in 2003 and, after rising through the ranks, was promoted to their first team squad. He made his debut for Santos in 2009 and was voted the Best Young Player of the 2009 Campeonato Paulista. Further awards followed, with Neymar being voted best player as Santos won the 2010 Campeonato Paulista, and also being top scorer in the 2010 Copa do Brasil with 11 goals. He finished the 2010 season with 42 goals in 60 games, as his club achieved the Double. Neymar was again voted best player of the year in 2011 as Santos retained the state title and also won the 2011 Copa Libertadores in which Neymar scored six goals in 13 appearances. He also played a key role in securing a Continental Double, Santos' first since 1963. Neymar received the Bronze Ball in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup, with Santos reaching the final, where they were defeated 4–0 by Barcelona.[8]

Neymar has represented Brazil at Under-17, Under-20 and senior levels. On 10 August 2010, at the age of 18, he made his debut for the Seleção in a friendly match against the United States; he scored from a header in the 28th minute, contributing to Brazil's 2–0 win. Neymar was the top scorer of the 2011 South American Youth Championship with nine goals, including two in the final, in the 6–0 win against Uruguay, helping Brazil to win their eleventh title in the competition. Neymar was selected as part of Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil squad for the 2013 Confederations Cup on home soil. For the tournament he was assigned the iconic number 10 shirt. On 30 June, Neymar scored Brazil's second goal in the 3–0 final win over Spain. Neymar's performances saw him awarded the golden ball for the best player of the tournament.[9] At the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Neymar scored four goals before he fractured a vertebra in his spine in the quarter-finals and missed the rest of the tournament. He received the Bronze Boot as the tournament's third top goalscorer, and was named in the World Cup All Star XI.

With 42 goals in 59 matches for Brazil, Neymar is the fifth highest goalscorer for his national team.[10] In 2012 and 2013, SportsPro named him the most marketable athlete in the world.[11] In December 2013 he was ranked by The Guardian as the sixth best player in the world.[12]

Early life

Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior was born in Mogi das Cruzes, São Paulo, to Neymar da Silva, Sr. and Nadine Santos. He inherited his name from his father, who is a former footballer and became his son's advisor as Neymar's talents began to grow.[13] Neymar comments on his father's role "My father has been by my side since I was little. He takes care of things, my finances and my family."[14] Growing up, Neymar combined his love of futsal with street football.[15]

In 2003, Neymar moved with his family to São Vicente, where he began playing for youth side Portuguesa Santista.[16] Then, later in 2003, they moved to Santos, where Neymar joined Santos FC.[17] With the success of his youth career and added income, the family bought their first property, a house next to the Vila Belmiro. Their quality of family life improved, as at age 15, Neymar was earning 10,000 reais per month and at 16, 125,000 reais per month. At 17, he signed a full professional contract, getting upgraded to the Santos first team and even receiving sponsorships.[18]

Club career

Santos

Youth

Neymar began playing football at an early age and he was soon spotted by Santos FC, who offered him a contract in 2003, where he was inducted into their youth academy, which has, in the past, produced Brazilian internationals like Coutinho, Clodoaldo, Diego, Elano and Alex. He also joined the likes of Pepe, Pelé and Robinho in starting out his career at Peixe (the football club's nickname).[19] While in the youth academy, Neymar met Paulo Henrique Ganso, becoming good friends in the process. He has one sister that did not play football. Aged 14, Neymar travelled to Spain to join the Real Madrid youth team, at the time when Real had stars like Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Roberto Carlos and Robinho.[20]

2009 season

Neymar made his professional debut on 7 March 2009, despite being only 17 years old; he was brought on for the last thirty minutes, in a 2–1 win against Oeste.[15] The following week he scored his first goal for Santos against Mogi Mirim. One month later, on 11 April, Neymar scored the decisive goal in a 2–1 win against Palmeiras in the 2009 Campeonato Paulista semi-final first leg.[21] In the final, however, Santos suffered a 4–2 aggregate defeat to the Corinthians.[22] In his first season, Neymar racked up 14 goals in 48 games.[15]

2010 season

Neymar continued his ascendancy in 2010, and, on 15 April 2010, he scored five goals for Santos in an 8–1 rout of Guarani in the qualifying stages of the Brazilian Cup.[23] Following the 2010 Campeonato Paulista in which Neymar scored 14 goals in 19 games,[19] the club were crowned champions after a 5–5 aggregate win over Santo André in the finals.[24] Neymar was subsequently given the award for the best player in the competition.[25] Neymar's performances for Santos have drawn comparisons to other Brazilians, including Robinho and Brazilian legend Pelé.[26]

In 2010, Santos rejected a £12 million bid for him from English Premier League team West Ham United,[27] and later an offer from another English club Chelsea, reported to be in the region of £20 million.[28] Despite Santos unwillingness to sell and Neymar himself insisting "I'm focused only on Santos",[29] his agent, Wagner Ribeiro, indicated that Neymar’s career was elsewhere, stating "He wants to become the best player in the world. The chances of him doing that while playing in Brazil are zero."[28] Although one year later Neymar admitted, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, that he had been happy with Chelsea's interest in him as it was a "dream" of his "to play in Europe", whilst also stating that at the time it had been the right decision to stay in Brazil.[30]

On 30 November 2010, Santos sold a 5% share of future transfer fees that he would receive to an investment group, Terceira Estrela Investimentos S.A. (TEISA), for R$ 3,549,900 (€1.5 million).[31] The previous year, his family had sold a 40% stake in Neymar's sporting rights to the DIS Esporte group who had been a long-term strategic partner of Santos' football club.[32]

Despite his first two seasons being highly successful, having ended the 2010 season with an impressive 42 goals in 60 games, problems had been identified, namely Neymar's apparent taste for diving when tackled, rather than attempting to continue his run, and his attitude. The latter came to the forefront during a match with Goianiense, on 15 September 2010, when the Santos' manager, Dorival Júnior, appointed another player to take the penalty awarded for a foul on Neymar. His decision was based on the fact that Neymar had missed a crucial penalty during the Copa do Brasil final of that year, even if Santos went on to win. Reacting to this, Neymar turned his back on his manager, had to be calmed down by a linesman and argued with his captain, Edu Dracena. The fallout from this event was that Dorival Junior wished to have Neymar suspended for two weeks, but the board sided with the player and promptly sacked the manager. Despite Neymar's apologies over the incident, some doubts still remain about his attitude.[15] In December 2010, aged just 18, Neymar came third for the 2010 South American Footballer of the Year, behind Andrés D'Alessandro and Juan Sebastián Verón.[33]

2011 season

Neymar playing for Santos against FC Barcelona in the final of the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.

Neymar scored six goals during Santos run to the 2011 Copa Libertadores Finals, tying him for third top goalscorer,[34] including the clinching goal of Santos' 4–3 aggregate win over Cerro Porteño in the semifinals.[35] In the two-legged final, Santos faced Uruguayan side Peñarol and drew the first leg 0–0 in Montevideo.[36] At home in the second leg, Neymar opened the scoring in the 46th minute as Santos held on for a 2–1 win and Neymar won Man of the Match honours.[37][38] The win brought Santos their first Copa Libertadores triumph since 1963, when Brazilian legend Pelé was playing for the club.[39][40]

In September 2011, Santos president Luis Ribeiro threatened to report Real Madrid to FIFA following reports that they had attempted to sign Neymar to a pre-contract agreement and denied that such an agreement was in place.[41] On 9 November 2011, Neymar and Santos agreed to a contract extension that would see the player stay with the club until after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The deal reportedly increased Neymar's wages by 50%, to the levels that top European clubs would be paying him.[42] On 14 December 2011, Neymar scored the opening goal for Santos as they defeated Kashiwa Reysol 3–1 in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup at the Toyota Stadium in Toyota, Japan, but failed to score against Barcelona in the final on 18 December 2011, where Santos were defeated 4–0, finishing as runners up in the competition.[43] He won the 2011 FIFA Puskás Award for scoring a sensational solo goal in the Brasileirão Série A against Flamengo, in a 5–4 loss. On 31 December 2011, he won the 2011 South American Footballer of the Year award for the first time, by a record margin, following in the footsteps of Diego Maradona, Romário, Pelé and Zico.[44]

2012 season

On 5 February 2012, when he turned 20, he scored his 100th goal as a professional football player, against Palmeiras in the Campeonato Paulista.[45][46] On 25 February 2012, Neymar scored two goals, one of whom from 25-yards and assisted with two, to help his side to a 6–1 win over Ponte Preta.[47] On 7 March 2012, Neymar netted a hat-trick as Santos saw off Brazilian rivals Internacional 3–1 in the Copa Libertadores Group stage match.[48] On 29 March, he scored a brace against Guaratinguetá in a 5–0 victory.[49] In the fixture against São Paulo on 29 April 2012, Neymar scored a hat-trick with the match ending 3–1.[50] Thereafter, he went on to score twice in the 1st[51] and 2nd legs[52] in the 2012 Campeonato Paulista Finals against Guarani, which ended 7–2 on aggregate. Neymar finished the 2012 Campeonato Paulista with 20 goals and was voted the Best player and Best Forward, and Santos were crowned champions. He was joint top scorer in the Copa Libertadores with 8 goals, after Santos were beaten over two legs by eventual champions Corinthians in the semi-finals.

On 25 August 2012, he scored a brace in the 2–1 away win at Palmeiras.[53] On 3 November 2012, in the Brasileiro Série A away fixture at Cruzeiro, Neymar scored a hat-trick and assisted Felipe Anderson's goal, to help his side to a 4–0 win.[54] Neymar finished off the 2012 season in style, first setting-up Victor Andrade's equaliser, then scoring twice, to give Santos a 3–1 home win over Palmeiras on 1 December 2012.[55] Neymar was voted the Best player of the 2012 Recopa Sudamericana, Neymar scoring in the second leg to win the title 2–0 on aggregate. He finished the 2012 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A with 14 goals and being voted the Best forward. Neymar finished the 2012 season, being award the Golden Ball, Arthur Friedenreich Award and Armando Nogueira Trophy. He was one of three finalists in the 2012 FIFA Puskás Award and finished runners-up behind Miroslav Stoch. He won the 2012 South American Footballer of the Year, retaining his award and winning it ahead of the likes of Ronaldinho. Reports emerged in 2011 that Santos reached an agreement with Barcelona to sign him at a later stage. However, Neymar rejected this in an interview, saying that he had "no agreement with Barcelona or anyone else".[56]

2013 season

Neymar started the 2013 Campeonato Paulista scoring twice in the first match, which ended a 3–1 win over São Bernardo on 19 January 2013.[57] Four days later on 23 January 2013, Neymar scored again against Botafogo in a 3–0 win.[58] On 3 February 2013, in the Paulista fixture against São Paulo, where Santos won 3–1, with Neymar scoring and making two assists.[59] on 18 March 2013, Neymar told that he had a "dream of playing in Europe, for a big club like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea." But he went on to say: "There's no point in speculating when I'll leave Santos. I'll leave when I want to."[60]

Neymar scored all four goals, had another disallowed and hit the post as Santos beat União Barbarense 4–0 in the Paulista on 13 April.[61] On 25 April 2013, his agent and father revealed that Neymar intended to leave for Europe before the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[62] Ahead of his last match for Santos, on 26 May against Flamengo, Neymar was in tears during the national anthem.[63]

Barcelona

Neymar during his unveiling at Barcelona in June 2013.

On 24 May 2013, Santos announced that they had received two offers for Neymar.[64] The following day, Neymar announced he would sign with FC Barcelona on 27 May 2013 and join the team after playing in the 2013 Confederations Cup. Neither Neymar nor the clubs released details on the transfer fee or personal terms, except to say he signed a five-year deal.[65] On 3 June 2013, Neymar was unveiled by Barcelona after passing medical tests and signing a contract that would keep him at the club through June 2018.[66]

Neymar was presented at the Camp Nou in front of 56,500 fans, a record turnout for a Brazilian player.[67] Club vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Neymar's transfer fee was €87.2 million (making him the 10th overall highest transfer) and his release clause was set at €190 million.[68] Barcelona's doctor suggested he might need to gain weight to be able to cope physically in Spanish football.[69]

Transfer investigation

The prosecutor's office in Madrid is investigating the transfer fee that Barcelona paid for Neymar.[70] The documents submitted to the authorities on request contained contradictory information.[70] The reported transfer fee was €57 million,[70] but €40 million "supposedly...flowed to a company which is close to Neymar family."[70] This is what "justifies an investigation into whether the allegations are true."[70] Barcelona president Sandro Rosell is accused of being "in connection with the transfer of embezzlement."[70]

2013–14 season

Neymar playing against UD Almeria on 2 March 2014

On 30 July 2013, Barcelona drew 2–2 against Lechia Gdańsk in a preseason friendly; this was Neymar's unofficial debut when he came on as a substitute.[71] He scored his first goal for the club in a 7–1 win against a Thailand XI on 7 August.[72]

Neymar made his competitive debut for Barcelona during the opening game of the 2013–14 La Liga season as a 63rd minute substitute in a 7–0 win against Levante UD.[73] On 21 August, he scored his first competitive goal for the club in the first leg of the 2013 Supercopa de España against Atlético Madrid.[74] On 18 September, he made his UEFA Champions League debut, assisting a Gerard Piqué goal as Barça beat AFC Ajax 4–0 in their opening match of the 2013–14 tournament.[75]

On 24 September, Neymar scored his first goal in La Liga in Barça's 4–1 defeat of Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.[76] On 26 October he made his first El Clásico appearance, scoring the opening goal and assisting the team's winning goal scored by Alexis Sánchez as Barça beat Real Madrid 2–1 at Camp Nou.[77][77] On 11 December, Neymar recorded his first three Champions League goals as he scored a hat-trick in a 6–1 win over Celtic in Barça's final Group H match.[78]

2014–15 season

On 13 September 2014, Neymar, coming on from the bench, scored two late goals, helping Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0. On 27 September, he scored a hat-trick against Granada in a 6–0 win.[79]

International career

Neymar at a press conference for Brazil.

Following Neymar's performances for Brazil's U-17 team at the 2009 U-17 World Cup in which he scored a goal in the opening match against Japan,[80] former Brazilian football players Pelé and Romário reportedly urged coach Dunga to take Neymar to the 2010 World Cup.[29][81] Although the widespread opinion that Neymar deserved a place in Dunga's squad went as far as a 14,000 signature petition,[29][82] and despite the huge pressure on Dunga to pick Neymar,[83] he was omitted from both the squad of 23,[84][85] and the stand-by list.[86] Although Dunga described Neymar as "extremely talented", he claimed that he had not been tested sufficiently on the international level to earn a World Cup spot and he had failed to impress enough while on international duty.[87][88]

Neymar celebrates his goal for Brazil against Scotland, on 27 March 2011, with André Santos and Ramires.

On 26 July 2010, Neymar was selected for the first time in the Brazil senior team by new head coach Mano Menezes for a friendly match against the United States to be played in East Rutherford, New Jersey. On 10 August 2010 he made his debut with the national team in that game, aged 18 years old, starting the match and wearing the number 11 jersey. He scored on his debut after 28 minutes, a header coming from an André Santos cross in a 2–0 win for Brazil.[89] On 1 March 2011, Neymar said: "Being on the Brazilian team is a privilege, There are some marvelous players and I'm very happy to be among them."[14] On 27 March 2011, he scored twice in a 2–0 win against Scotland at the Emirates Stadium.[90] During the match against Scotland, a banana was thrown onto the pitch after he scored from the penalty spot, which led Neymar to complain about 'constant jeering and an atmosphere of racism', implying that Scottish fans exhibited racism.[91][92] While Scottish officials explained that Neymar had been booed solely for perceived injury-feigning, a German student who was in the stadium amongst Brazil supporters said that he threw the banana with no racist intentions. This led to the Scottish Football Association asking the Brazilian Football Confederation for an apology for the accusations made to the Scottish fans.[93][94] Neymar refused to apologize or retract his words claiming he 'did not accuse any person or any group of supporters'.[95][96][97]

2011 Copa América

Neymar took part at the 2011 Copa América in Argentina, where he scored two goals in the first round game against Ecuador. He was selected 'Man of the Match' in Brazil's first match against Venezuela, which ended a 1–1 draw. Brazil were eliminated in the quarter-finals in a penalty shoot-out against Paraguay (2–2 a.e.t.), with Neymar being substituted in the 80th minute.

2012 Summer Olympics and first hat-trick

On 11 May 2012, Neymar was selected for the squad of the Brazil Olympic football team to participate in the London 2012 Olympic Games.[98][99] In Brazil's first warm-up match on 20 July 2012, against the host nation Great Britain at Riverside Stadium, Neymar was involved in both goals of a 2–0 win, first making an assist in the opener after floating a free-kick into the six-yard box for Sandro's header, before converting a penalty.[100] On 26 July 2012, Neymar scored his first goal of the 2012 Summer Olympics in Brazil's opening fixture against Egypt, which ended a 3–2 victory for Brazil.[101] In the following match against Belarus, Neymar scored a free-kick from 25-yards into the top-right corner of the goal and set up goals for Alexandre Pato's header with a cross from the right and Oscar with a back heel as Brazil secured their place in the quarter-finals with a 3–1 win. Afterwards he said: "I scored and made two assists so for me it was perfect".[102][103]

On 5 August 2012, in the quarter-final encounter against Honduras, Neymar scored a penalty, his third goal of the tournament and assisted in Leandro Damião's second goal on the match, to help Brazil to a 3–2 victory at St James' Park and book a place in the semi-finals.[104]

Neymar scored his first full international hat-trick on 10 September 2012, in an 8–0 win over China at the Estádio José do Rego Maciel in Recife.[105] On 19 September, Neymar scored the winner against Argentina in a 2-1 win in the first leg of the 2012 Superclásico de las Américas at the Estádio Serra Dourada in Goiânia, Brazil.[106]

2013 Confederations Cup

Neymar playing against Spain's Gerard Piqué in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup Final

Neymar was selected as part of Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil squad for the 2013 Confederations Cup on home soil. For the tournament he was assigned the iconic number 10 shirt, having previously worn 11.[107]

Neymar scored the first goal of the tournament in a 3–0 win over Japan at the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha on 15 June.[108] In their second match, Neymar scored after nine minutes and crossed for 's late goal to give Brazil a 2–0 win over Mexico.[109] He scored in his third consecutive match, with a powerful free kick from the edge of the penalty area, as Brazil beat Italy 4–2, and received his third consecutive man-of-the-match award.[110][111]

On 30 June, Neymar scored Brazil's second goal in the 3–0 final victory over Spain. Neymar's performances saw him receive the Golden Ball for player of the tournament.[9]

2014 World Cup

Neymar prepares to take a free kick during Brazil's opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup against Croatia.

On 5 March 2014, Neymar scored a hat-trick in a friendly win against South Africa in Johannesburg. He made headlines for his conduct after the final whistle when a young South African boy ran onto the pitch. As security staff began to escort the boy from the field, Neymar intervened and introduced him to his Brazil team-mates before they all lifted him in the air during their celebrations.[112][113]

On 2 June, Neymar was named to participate with Team Brazil in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[114] Going into the tournament, as the team's star player, Neymar was the man expected to win Brazil its sixth World Cup on home soil.[115] One week prior to the team's opening match, Neymar scored once and made two assists in a 4–0 friendly win over Panama.[116]

Neymar earned his 50th international cap in the opening match of the tournament, on 12 June against Croatia in São Paulo. In the 26th minute, with Croatia leading 1–0, Neymar elbowed Croatian midfielder Luka Modrić, after which Neymar was issued a yellow card.[117] Many critics agreed that Neymar's punishment was too lenient and that he should have been issued a red card.[118][119][120] He equalised before half-time with a shot from outside the box and gave Brazil the lead in the second half with a penalty kick, following a controversial decision by the referee, in an eventual 3–1 win.[121] In the third group match, he again scored twice as the Seleção defeated Cameroon 4–1 to reach the knockout stage.[122] In the round of 16 against Chile, the match finished 1–1 after 120 minutes and was decided by a penalty shoot-out with Neymar scoring what proved to be the winning kick for Brazil.[123]

In the quarter-final defeat of Colombia, while challenging for the ball, Neymar was kneed in the back by Juan Camilo Zúñiga and had to be removed from the pitch on a stretcher. A hospital scan revealed that Neymar had fractured a vertebra in his spine and he missed the rest of the World Cup.[124] Earlier in the match, Neymar assisted Thiago Silva's opening goal with a cross from a corner kick.[125] It was the second time in the tournament that a Neymar corner had led to a goal for Brazil, after his cross created David Luiz's goal in the previous round against Chile.[123]

On 11 July, Neymar was named on the 10-man shortlist for FIFA's Golden Ball award for the tournament's best player.[126] He won the Bronze Boot as the tournament's third top goalscorer and was named in the World Cup All Star XI.[127]

2015 Copa América

With captain Thiago Silva ruled out through injury, new coach Dunga decided to make Neymar captain and confirmed on 5 September that the forward would stay on as skipper on a permanent basis.[128]

Style of play

Neymar with Lionel Messi after the final of the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.

Neymar primarily plays as either a central striker, winger or occasionally as an attacking midfielder and has been described as "a true phenomenon".[129] He often plays as a left sided forward for both club and country in the team's 4–3–3 formation, drifting infield due to his energetic pace and playmaking skills. Neymar's dribbling skills and playmaking ability are reminiscent of compatriot Ronaldinho. His common traits are his creativity, passing, finishing, dribbling, feints and technique, being described as both "electric" and "explosive".[130] He commented on his attributes saying: "I'm always trying to perfect everything – dribbling, shooting, headers and control. You can always improve".[14] Neymar stated that he has been inspired by Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi and Wayne Rooney.[131]

Neymar, playing for Brazil in 2011, has been compared to compatriots Pelé and Ronaldinho.

The media have often drawn comparisons between Neymar and Brazilian Legend Pelé, as Neymar possesses similar attributes and also like Pelé came from the Santos Youth Academy and turned heads with his skill. Neymar has said that Pelé is his "role model" but also saying: "I don't like to make comparison with Pelé".[132] On 11 April 2012, during the celebrations for the 100 years of Santos, when asked by journalists about Lionel Messi, Pelé said he felt that Neymar was better: "Now everyone is talking about Messi; he is a star. But [to be the best ever] he must first become better than Neymar," Pelé said. "At the moment Messi is just more experienced."[133]

Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho had also tipped Neymar on becoming the best player in the world: “Neymar is young though, and I can't explain how special he will become. In the next two or three seasons he will become the best player."[134] Another Brazilian star, retired World Cup winner Ronaldo also believes that Neymar can become the best in the world: "Logically, Messi is better right now but Neymar is a great talent who will show the world that he will be number one".[135] Former Real Madrid sporting director Jorge Valdano has also praised Neymar, stating: "I like Neymar a lot. Many of his individual actions result in a goal and often it's a move that only seems to be happening with him on the pitch."[136] FC Barcelona star Xavi also stated that Neymar "is a great player, has a very good attitude, and will go on to be the best player in the world." [137] However, Neymar also has been known and criticised for his diving when tackled. For which Pelé has told: "He is a player with a body that can't take a lot of hits. [...] A lot of times he will fall because he can't do anything else, but he was overdoing it." He continued: "Even when he is fouled, he can't make a spectacle out of it".[138]

Neymar's increasing reputation led both the media and former great players to draw comparisons between Neymar and FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, which Neymar has commented on saying: "Messi is above everyone, there is no use comparing me with him. [...] He is the best player in the world and I always get inspired when I watch good football."[139] Ronaldo said: “Neymar is a great talent, the best we have in Brazil. He is very similar to Messi.” Zico said: “I see Neymar like a [Cristiano] Ronaldo or a Messi, the type who appears and makes things happen.”[140] After his hat-trick against Internacional 3–1 in Copa Libertadores and Messi's five goals scored in the Champions League, Neymar said: "I am a Messi fan. I was told what he did today. I support him to score a lot of nice goals so I can keep copying and imitating him."[141]

Outside football

Personal life

Neymar (far left) with Lucas Moura (second from left), Ganso (far right) and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff after the draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Neymar became a father to a baby boy in August 2011 at age 19. The baby's mother is Carolina Dantas, but Neymar is not in a relationship with her.[142] The baby, David Lucca, was born in São Paulo.[143] Neymar was quoted as saying "I cried when I learned that I would be his father. At first, I felt fear. Then joy. It is a new responsibility and I am now enjoying it."[144] He later described the birth of his baby boy as "2.8 kilograms of pure happiness" and also said "Mother and baby are in good condition just after childbirth".[145][146]

Neymar is a Christian.[147][148][149] Neymar has spoken about his faith saying, "Life only makes sense when our highest ideal is to serve Christ!"[150] Neymar reportedly also tithes (10%) his income to his church and has named Kaká as his religious role model.[151]

Wealth

In 2012, France Football ranked Neymar 13th in its list of the world's richest players, behind the likes of Lionel Messi (1st) and Cristiano Ronaldo (3rd), with a combined income from salaries, bonuses and off-field earnings of $18.8 million for the previous 12 months.[152][153]

Sponsorships

Neymar has signed many sponsorships as his reputation rapidly grew from the age of 17. In March 2011, he signed an 11-year contract with American sportswear company Nike.[154] In the same month, Panasonic paid US$2.4 million to secure Neymar's services for two years. He has also signed other sponsorships from Volkswagen, Tenys Pé Baruel, Lupo, Ambev, Claro, Unilever and Santander.[155][156][157][158] All of his sponsorships have earned him a total of an estimated €20 million per year.[18] On 8 May 2013, Neymar was rated by SportsPro magazine as the most marketable athlete in the world, ahead of Lionel Messi (2nd) and Cristiano Ronaldo (8th).[159] In November 2012 advertising agency Loducca, created Neymar's own personal brand logo,[160] featuring the N, J and R (Neymar Junior) with the N styled to match Neymar’s shirt number 11.[160] Neymar starred in a 2014 advert for Beats with other global football stars including Thierry Henry and Luis Suárez, with the theme of 'The Game Before The Game' and the players pre-game ritual of listening to music.[161]

Media

Neymar at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey during a match between the New York Red Bulls and the Los Angeles Galaxy

Neymar was featured on the front covers of the video games Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 on the North American version, after Konami Digital Entertainment announced that he had joined Pro Evolution Soccer.[162] Neymar joined Cristiano Ronaldo as a featured cover athlete.[163][164]

Neymar appeared on the cover of Time magazine in February 2013, the first Brazilian athlete to be so honoured. The issue included an article by Bobby Ghosh entitled "The Next Pelé" and subtitled "How the career of Brazilian football star Neymar explains his country's economy".[165]

Controversy erupted because of a cover by Brazilian football magazine Placar that depicted Neymar on a cross. The title read "A Crucificação de Neymar" (the Crucifixion of Neymar) and subtitled: "the Brazilian ace turns scapegoat in a sport where everyone plays dirty".[166]

In April 2013, Brazilian cartoonist Mauricio de Sousa released a Monica's Gang comic book featuring a younger version of Neymar (called Neymar Jr) as the main character.[167]

In May 2013, SportsPro magazine named Neymar as the most marketable athlete on the planet for the second consecutive year. He topped the list ahead of Lionel Messi, Rory McIlroy, Usain Bolt and Cristiano Ronaldo, among other sportspeople.[11] The list measures the monetary value, the age, the force in domestic markets, the charisma and their market potential in the next three years.[11] In October 2014, Neymar had the fourth highest social media rank in the world among sportspeople, behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and David Beckham, with 48.6 million Facebook fans.[168][169] To mark the World Cup commencing in Brazil, in June 2014, Neymar appeared with supermodel Gisele Bündchen on the front cover of Vogue's Brazilian edition.[170]

Music

Neymar has become an icon in promoting Brazilian modern pop music, particularly Música sertaneja. The video in which Neymar dances in the Santos locker room dancing in front of teammates and making them react to the tune of Michel Teló's hit "Ai se eu te pego!" carrying his recorder making the round of the players went viral. He made a point of performing his dance antics to the song after scoring goals in football games and appeared live with Teló in one of the latter's concerts. He also supported sertanejo singer Gusttavo Lima performing live with Lima on renditions of the singer's hits "Balada" and "Fazer Beber". In 2012, he made cameo appearances in the music video for yet another sertanejo hit "Eu Quero Tchu, Eu Quero Tcha" by João Lucas & Marcelo. In 2013, Neymar appeared on a rap music video, "País do Futebol" from MC Guimê.[171]

Career statistics

Club

As of 23 November 2014.[172]
Club Season League State League Cup Continental Intercontinental Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Brazil Brasileirão Paulista Copa do Brasil Copa Libertadores1 Club World Cup Total
Santos 2009 33 10 12 3 3 1 48 14
2010 31 17 19 14 8 11 2 0 60 42
2011 21 13 11 4 13 6 2 1 47 24
2012 17 14 16 20 14 9 47 43
2013 1 0 18 12 4 1 23 13
Total 103 54 76 53 15 13 29 15 2 1 225 136
Spain La Liga Supercopa de España Copa del Rey Champions League Club World Cup Total
Barcelona 2013–14 26 9 2 1 3 1 10 4 41 15
2014–15 11 11 0 0 0 0 4 2 15 13
Total 37 20 2 1 3 1 14 6 56 28
Career total 140 74 78 54 18 14 43 21 2 1 281 164

International

As of 12 November 2014.[173][174]
National team Year Apps Goals
Brazil 2010 2 1
2011 13 7
2012 12 9
2013 19 10
2014 13 15
Total 59 42

International goals

Scores and results table. Brazil's goal tally first:[175]
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 10 August 2010 MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, United States  United States 1–0 2–0 Friendly
2 27 March 2011 Emirates Stadium, London, England  Scotland 1–0 2–0 Friendly
3 2–0
4 13 July 2011 Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes, Córdoba, Argentina  Ecuador 2–1 4–2 2011 Copa América
5 4–2
6 10 August 2011 Mercedes-Benz Arena, Stuttgart, Germany  Germany 2–3 2–3 Friendly
7 28 September 2011 Estádio Olímpico do Pará, Belém, Brazil  Argentina 2–0 2–0 2011 Superclásico de las Américas
8 8 October 2011 Estadio Nacional, San José, Costa Rica  Costa Rica 1–0 1–0 Friendly
9 30 May 2012 FedExField, Landover, United States  United States 1–0 4–1 Friendly
10 10 September 2012 Estádio José do Rego Maciel, Recife, Brazil  China PR 2–0 8–0 Friendly
11 5–0
12 6–0
13 19 September 2012 Estádio Serra Dourada, Goiânia, Brazil  Argentina 2–1 2–1 2012 Superclásico de las Américas
14 11 October 2012 Swedbank Stadion, Malmö, Sweden  Iraq 5–0 6–0 Friendly
15 16 October 2012 Stadion Miejski, Wrocław, Poland  Japan 2–0 4–0 Friendly
16 3–0
17 15 November 2012 MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, United States  Colombia 1–1 1–1 Friendly
18 6 April 2013 Estadio Ramón Tahuichi Aguilera, Santa Cruz, Bolivia  Bolivia 2–0 4–0 Friendly
19 3–0
20 24 April 2013 Estádio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte, Brazil  Chile 2–1 2–2 Friendly
21 15 June 2013 Estádio Nacional, Brasília, Brazil  Japan 1–0 3–0 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
22 19 June 2013 Estádio Castelão, Fortaleza, Brazil  Mexico 1–0 2–0 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
23 22 June 2013 Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Brazil  Italy 2–1 4–2 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
24 30 June 2013 Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  Spain 2–0 3–0 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup Final
25 7 September 2013 Estádio Nacional, Brasília, Brazil  Australia 3–0 6–0 Friendly
26 10 September 2013 Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, United States  Portugal 2–1 3–1 Friendly
27 12 October 2013 Sangam Stadium, Seoul, South Korea  South Korea 1–0 2–0 Friendly
28 5 March 2014 FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa  South Africa 2–0 5–0 Friendly
29 3–0
30 5–0
31 3 June 2014 Estádio Olímpico do Pará, Belém, Brazil  Panama 1–0 4–0 Friendly
32 12 June 2014 Arena de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil  Croatia 1–1 3–1 2014 FIFA World Cup
33 2–1
34 23 June 2014 Estádio Nacional, Brasília, Brazil  Cameroon 1–1 4–1 2014 FIFA World Cup
35 2–1
36 5 September 2014 Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, United States  Colombia 1–0 1–0 Friendly
37 14 October 2014 National Stadium, Kallang, Singapore  Japan 1–0 4–0 Friendly
38 2–0
39 3–0
40 4–0
41 12 November 2014 Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadı, Istanbul, Turkey  Turkey 1–0 4–0 Friendly
42 4–0

Honours

Club

Santos[176]
Barcelona[176]

National team

Brazil[176]

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External links