This page by Ramsey Al-Khalil
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, known to the world as Neymar, is seen by many to be the future of Brazilian football. Born in Mogi das Cruzes, São Paulo and taking his name from his father, Neymar became a member of a loving family whose focus was to foster their child’s creativity on the football pitch . He used his love of futsal and street football to fuel his passion and eventually made his debut in 2003 when he played for the youth club Portugesa Santista in São Vicente [2, 3]. Later that year, his family moved to Santos where Neymar spent the next 10 years playing for Santos FC . Though his family’s finances were modest for the early part of his life and career, his professional debut in 2009 improved their situation drastically. Despite being thrown into the spotlight of national football at the young age of 17, he excelled on the field and earned sponsorships that solidified his place as a rising star in the Brazilian league . In his rookie season, Neymar totaled 14 goals in 48 appearances, a mark that leaves many, including myself, very impressed . The following season, he continued his rise to stardom as he led Santos to a Brazilian Cup title and earned recognition as the best player in the competition . Subsequently, he began drawing comparisons to his Brazilian contemporary Robinho and even the goal-scoring legend known as Pelé . He ended the season with 42 goals in 60 matches, though also becoming the target of criticism regarding his frequent diving tactics as well as his poor attitude . Regardless, he was a talent on the rise and went on to experience even greater success in the next couple years. In 2011, he took Santos all the way to the finals of the FIFA Club World Cup, where his side fell against a heavily favored Barcelona squad . In the same year, he won the coveted FIFA Puskás Award for scoring a sensational goal against Flamengo as well as the South American Footballer of the Year award.
He repeated the latter feat in 2012, even finishing ahead of international superstar Ronaldinho in the voting. On May 26, 2013, Neymar suited up for the final time as a member of Santos FC where he struggled to keep his emotions from overtaking him .
After spending the majority of his young career with the Brazilian club Santos, he was bought by FC Barcelona for a mere 57 million euros, which comes out to $74 million . Currently, he has 8 goals for his new club, 5 of which have been in La Liga matches.
Many of Neymar’s shining moments have occurred when he’s suited up for the Seleção. Despite the massive pressure coming from fans and even former players, namely Pelé and Romário, to include Neymar on the roster for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he wasn’t named to either the squad of 23 or the stand-by list . On July 26, 2010, he finally made his first appearance on the senior squad in a friendly against the US; he scored 28 minutes into the game by finishing a cross from Andres Santos with his head . Most recently, he took part in the 2013 Confederations Cup hosted in Brazil where he donned the historic number 10 (rather than his usual 11) . He scored at least one goal in every match, including the second goal in the final against Spain, a match that Brazil won decisively 3-0. Fittingly, Neymar was awarded the golden ball as the best player of the tournament .
As Neymar continues to ascend to the top of the international football stage, his personal successes, wealth, and media mogul status do so as well. He is currently dating Brazilian actress Bruna Marquezine, earning about 20 million euros annually from sponsorships with Nike, Panasonic, and other agencies, and has been featured twice on the cover of Pro Evolution Soccer video games (2012 and 2013) [15, 16]. In May 2013, SportsPro magazine named him the most marketable athlete alive for the second straight year .
- “Soccer prodigy Neymar is at home in Brazil”. The Age. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
- “Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior – The World’s Hottest Property?”. Back Page Football.
- “Performance by the under-12 Briosa almost did Neymar hit with São Paulo”. 7 January 2013.
- “The Trajectory of a Soccer Star – Neymar”. 7 January 2013.
- “Neymar: without Pep Guardiola on the Barce bench”. Merca Foot.
- “Meninos da Vila comandam a festa de encerramento do Paulistão 2010” (in Portuguese). GloboEsporte.com. 4 May 2010.
- “Sky Sports Scout – Neymar”. Sky Sports. 8 April 2010.
- “Report: Kashiwa Reysol v Santos FC – FIFA Club World Cup – ESPN Soccernet”. Soccernet.espn.go.com. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
- “Neymar sheds tears in emotional last match with Santos”. inside World Soccer. 27 May 2013.
- “Brazilian forward Neymar says he is joining Barcelona, will sign the contract on Monday”. Associated Press. 25 May 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-26.
- “Brazil’s Dunga unfazed by critics”. CNN. 18 May 2010.
- “Neymar scores on Brazil debut”. ESPN Soccernet. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
- “Neymar renews Brazil’s number 10 love affair”. Inquirer. 16 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
- “Neymar wins best player, and yes, Torres picks up another award”. NBC. 30 June 2013.
- “Neymar: without Pep Guardiola on the Barce bench”. Merca Foot.
- “PES 2012 cover adds Neymar in North America”. new game network. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
- “Neymar tops list of most marketable athletes in the world”. SportsPro Media. 8 May 2013.
While Neymar has been astounding so far at Barca, it remains to be seen how he will respond to Europe. He should look on the tales of former compatriotswho left the game as cautionary tales. Alexandre Pato seemed to be ready to take the world by storm when he scored 9 goals in 18 appearances as a 18 year old for Milan, before his alleged refusal to train got him benched. Adriano was considered one of the best strikers in the world before seemily falling off the face of the footballing world after partying too hard at Inter. And the famous Ronaldinho, who enchanted even the Santiago Bernabeau, was sold by both Barca and Milan after his lifestyle impacted his play. While Neymar has started well, he should look to others for inspiration if he wishes to be remembered
Neymar is a tremendous talent that has surpassed my expectations. Even I as a Barcelona fan underestimated his ability after he transferred to Barca from Santos. He complements Messi well and has made the forward spot essentially his to lose. In the coming years, especially in this year’s World Cup, we will truly see how he handles the pressure of being put onto a global stage to display his talents. Hopefully, he will be the first of many in a new golden generation of Brazilian footballers ushering an era of continued success in future World Cups and European club tournaments. Maybe one day he will compete with Messi and Ronaldo for who truly is the world’s best footballer.