Neymar in 2011
|Full name||Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior|
|Date of birth||5 February 1992|
|Place of birth||Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil|
|Height||1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 14 April 2013.
† Appearances (Goals).
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (Portuguese pronunciation: [nejˈmaʁ dɐ ˈsiwvɐ ˈsɐ̃tuj ˈʒũɲoʁ]; born 5 February 1992), commonly known as Neymar, is a Brazilian footballer who plays in the Brasileirão Série A for Santos and the Brazilian national team, mainly as a forward. In 2013, SportsPro magazine rated Neymar as the most marketable athlete in the world. Neymar was also rated #13 in The Guardian's 'Football 100' for 2012.
At the age of 19, Neymar won the 2011 South American Footballer of the Year award, after coming third in 2010. 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, which he won. He is known for his acceleration, speed, dribbling and finishing. His playing style has earned him critical acclaim, with fans, media and former players drawing comparisons to Argentine forward Lionel Messi and former Brazil player Pelé, who has called Neymar "an excellent player".
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 honours 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 his side retained the state title and Santos also winning the 2011 Copa Libertadores in which Neymar scored 6 goals in 13 appearances. He also played a key role in securing a Continental Double for his team, Santos' first since 1963. He received the Bronze Ball in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup, with Santos making it to the final, where they were defeated by FC Barcelona, 4–0.
Neymar is a Brazilian international, having 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. He 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 11th title in this competition.
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. 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." Growing up, Neymar combined his love of futsal with street football.
In 1992, Neymar moved with his family to São Vicente, where he began playing for youth side Portuguesa Santista. Then, in 2003, they moved to Santos, where Neymar joined Santos FC. 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, 25,000 reais per month. At 17, he signed a full professional contract, getting upgraded to the Santos first team and even receiving sponsorships.
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 Bruno Coutinho Martins, Clodoaldo, Diego Walsh, 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). While in the youth academy, Neymar met Paulo Henrique Ganso, becoming good friends in the process.
At the age 14, he travelled to Spain in order to join Real Madrid, at the time when Real had stars like Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and Robinho. Neymar passed the trial for his potential move, but Santos reportedly paid 1 million reals to Neymar to keep him at the club. Neymar progressed through the youth ranks rapidly and he was finally awarded a promotion to the Santos first team in 2009.
Like many of Brazil's footballing prodigies, 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. 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. In the final, however, Santos suffered a 4–2 aggregate defeat to the Corinthians. In his first season, Neymar racked up 14 goals in 48 games.
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. Following the 2010 Campeonato Paulista in which Neymar scored 14 goals in 19 games, the club were crowned champions after a 5–5 aggregate win over Santo André in the finals. Neymar was subsequently given the award for the best player in the competition. Neymar's performances for Santos have drawn comparisons to other Brazilians, including Robinho and Brazilian legend Pelé.
In 2010, Santos rejected a £12 million bid for him from English Premier League team West Ham United, and later an offer from another English club Chelsea, reported to be in the region of £20 million. Despite Santos unwillingness to sell and Neymar himself insisting "I'm focused only on Santos", 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." 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.
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). 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.
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. On 30 December 2010, Neymar came in third for the 2010 South American Footballer of the Year, behind Andrés D'Alessandro and Juan Sebastián Verón.
Neymar scored six goals during Santos run to the 2011 Copa Libertadores Finals, tying him for third top goalscorer, including the clinching goal of Santos' 4–3 aggregate win over Cerro Porteño in the semifinals. In the two-legged final, Santos faced Uruguayan side Peñarol and drew the first leg 0–0 in Montevideo. 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. The win brought Santos their first Copa Libertadores triumph since 1963, when Brazilian legend Pelé was playing for the club.
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. 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. 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. 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.
On 5 February 2012, when he turned 20, he scored his 100th goal as a professional football player, against Palmeiras in the Campeonato Paulista. 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. 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. On 29 March, he scored a brace against Guaratinguetá in a 5–0 victory. In the fixture against São Paulo on 29 April 2012, Neymar scored a hat-trick with the match ending 3–1. Thereafter, he went on to score twice in the 1st and 2nd legs in the 2012 Campeonato Paulista Finals against Guarani, which ended 7-2 on aggregate. Neymar finished the 2012 Campeonato Paulista with 20 goals and being voted the Best player and Best Forward, with Santos being crowned champions of the tournament. He was joint top scorer in the Copa Libertadores with 8 goals, after Santos were beaten over 2-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. 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. 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. 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".
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. Four days later on 23 January 2013, Neymar scored again against Botafogo in a 3-0 win. On 3 February 2013, in the Paulista fixture against São Paulo, where Santos won 3-1, with Neymar scoring and making two assists. 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."
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, former Brazilian football players Pelé and Romário reportedly urged coach Dunga to take Neymar to the 2010 World Cup. Although the widespread opinion that Neymar deserved a place in Dunga's squad went as far as a 14,000 signature petition, and despite the huge pressure on Dunga to pick Neymar, he was omitted from both the squad of 23, and the stand-by list. 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.
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. 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." On 27 March 2011, he scored twice in a 2–0 win against Scotland at the Emirates Stadium. 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. While Scottish officials explained that Neymar had been booed solely for perceived injury-feigning, a German student who was in the station 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. Neymar refused to apologise or retract his words claiming he 'did not accuse any person or any group of supporters'.
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
On 11 May 2012, Neymar was selected in the squad for the Brazil Olympic football team to participate in the London 2012 Olympic Games. 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. 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. 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".
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.
Style of play
Neymar primarily plays as either a forward, winger or occasionally as an attacking midfielder and has been described as "a true phenomenon". He often plays as a striker for both club and country in the team's 4–3–3 formation and drifting occasionally onto the flanks due to his energetic pace and playmaking skills. Neymar's common exemplary traits are his creativity, passing, clinical finishing, exceptional dribbling and technical ability, being described as both "electric" and "explosive". He commented on his attributes saying: "I'm always trying to perfect everything - dribbling, shooting, headers and control. You can always improve". Neymar also said that he aspired to be like his idols, Real Madrid Forward Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and FC Barcelona's midfielders Andrés Iniesta and Xavi. By saying: "I like to watch good football so I like to watch good players. I like Cristiano Ronaldo, Iniesta, Xavi and Wayne Rooney."
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". On 11 April 2012, Pelé confirmed he felt that Neymar was better than Lionel Messi. "Now everyone is talking about Messi; he is a star. But [to be the best ever] he must first become better than Neymar," Pele said. "At the moment Messi is just more experienced." Argentinian legend Diego Maradona commented on this in Dubai, calling Pelé "stupid" for what Pelé had suggested. "Maybe Neymar is the best player in the world, but only if you say that Messi is from a different planet," Maradona said. 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".
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." 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 Ronaldo or a Messi, the type who appears and makes things happen.” 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."
On 8 May 2011, Neymar discovered that he would be having a child, with a 17 year old girl. Four days later, on 12 May, he officially gave the information through his official website, confirming that he would be a father for the first time at the age of 19. The mother's name was not released. Sixteen days after learning of pregnancy, on the eve of the semi-final of the Copa Libertadores, the child's mother informed Neymar that the baby was a boy. "I cried when he learned that I would be his father. At first, I felt fear. Then joy. It is a new responsibility and I am now enjoying.", Neymar on the birth of his first child. In August 2011, Davi Lucca was born in São Paulo. 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". Despite the birth of his baby, it was understood that Neymar would not begin a relationship with the baby's mother.
In 2012, France Football ranked Neymar at 7th in its list of the world's richest footballers, behind the likes of Lionel Messi (1st) and Cristiano Ronaldo (3rd), with a combined income from salaries, bonuses and off-field earnings of £11 million (€13.8 million).
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. 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, Red Bull, Tenys Pé Baruel, Lupo, Ambev, Claro, Unilever and Santander. All of his sponsorships have earned him a total of an estimated €20 million per year. On 8 May 2013, Neymar was rated by SportsPro magazine as the most marketable athlete in the world, ahead of Lionel Messi (2rd) and Cristiano Ronaldo (8th). In November 2012 advertising agency Loducca, created Neymar's own personal brand logo, featuring the N, J and R (Neymar Junior) with the N styled to match Neymar’s Brazilian shirt number 11.
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. Neymar joined Cristiano Ronaldo as a featured cover athlete.
On February 2013, Neymar became the first Brazilian athlete to be on a TIME cover, which is a huge honour, given the fact that the previous eight to be featured on the front page were Brazil's former presidents and diplomats.
In May 2013, SportsPro magazine named Neymar as the most marketable athlete on the planet for the second consecutive year. The striker heads the list ahead of Lionel Messi, Rory McIlroy, Usain Bolt and Cristiano Ronaldo, among other sports stars. The list measures the monetary value, the age, the force in domestic markets, the charisma and their market potential in the next three years.
|Brazil||Brasileirão||Paulista||Copa do Brasil||Copa Libertadores1||Club World Cup||Total|
- As of 6 April 2013.