Brazil: Neymar

Written by Ramsey Al-Khalil in 2013

Adapted from “Neymar” by Ramsey Al Khalil, 2013

Edited and updated in 2015 by Connie Cai




Forward/Winger, #10, 23 Years Old





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 [1]. 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 [4].

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. After 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 [5]. In his rookie season, Neymar totaled 14 goals in 48 appearances, a feat that impressed many [2]. 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 [6]. Subsequently, he began drawing comparisons to his Brazilian contemporary Robinho and even the goal-scoring legend Pelé [7]. He ended the season with 42 goals in 60 matches, yet also became the target of criticism regarding his frequent diving tactics as well as his poor attitude [2]. 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 team fell against a heavily favored Barcelona squad [8]. In the same year, he won the coveted FIFA Puskás Award for scoring a sensational goal against Flamengo, as well as winning the South American Footballer of the Year award.


He again won the South American Footballer of the Year award 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 [9]. After spending the majority of his young career with the Brazilian club Santos, he was bought by FC Barcelona for 57 million euros (equal to $74 million) [10]. As of March 2015, in the 2014-15 season he has scored 24 goals for FC Barcelona, 17 of which have been in League matches [11].


Many of Neymar’s shining moments have occurred when he’s been suited up for the Seleção, the Brazilian national football team. Despite massive pressure coming from fans and former players (namely Pelé and Romário) to include Neymar on the roster for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Seleção head coach Dunga did not name Neymar to either the squad of 23 or the stand-by list [12]. On July 26, 2010, he finally made his first appearance on the senior squad in a friendly against the US and scored 28 minutes into the game by finishing a cross from Andres Santos with his head [13]. 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) [14]. He scored at least one goal in each match, including the second goal in the final against Spain, which Brazil won decisively 3-0. Fittingly, Neymar was awarded the golden ball as the best player of the tournament [16].


As Neymar continues to ascend to the top of the international football stage, his personal successes, wealth, and media mogul status rise as well. He is rumored to be dating model Soraja Vucelic, he earns about 20 million euros annually from sponsorships with Nike, Panasonic, and other agencies, and he has been featured twice on the cover of Pro Evolution Soccer video games (2012 and 2013) [15, 17, 18]. In May 2013, SportsPro magazine named him the most marketable athlete alive for the second straight year [19].

This summer, the pressure on the national team is enormous – anything other than a World Cup title would mean failure for the Brazilian squad. Of all people, Neymar feels the pressure more than anyone [20]. One of the most important strategy changes that the Seleção has made in preparation for the tournament is moving their star forward to the left flank. By doing so, Neymar doesn’t have to cut his way through the middle of the opposing defense and rather can use his speed on the outside against slower defenders.

It seems an eternity ago that Dunga rejected Pele’s pleas to include the youngster in the World Cup Roster. Four short years later, the hopes of a nation rest squarely on his slim shoulders. His relationship with Seleção head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is also a benefit to the team. Neymar states that, “he is like a father, he treats every player with the same amount of respect” and cites playing under him as “an honor” [21]. Additionally, Neymar’s teammates continually praise their young leader. Daniel Alves openly stated, “I think that when Neymar was born, was touched by God, who told him: ‘You will be the player'” [22]. Let’s hope Neymar delivers, because if he does, his place in soccer history will ready.



Update: Neymar’s performance in the 2014 World Cup was critical in helping the Seleção, as he scored 4 goals and had one assist in 5 matches [23]. However, unfortunately his performance in the World Cup was marred in the quarterfinal match against Colombia, when Neymar suffered a fractured vertebrae injury after Colombian defender Juan Zuniga kneed him in the back. Following the injury, Neymar was carried off the field in tears while Zuniga was not punished for the action.

Following the injury, Neymar released a heartfelt video to his fans, stating in Portuguese, “My World Cup has not ended, it has been interrupted by a play but the tournament goes on and I told my teammates to do everything in order to help me achieve my dream to be a world champion.” [24]. Unfortunately, the Seleção fell apart without their best player, eventually losing in the semifinal against Germany 7-1 (matching the team’s worst defeat in its 100 year history) and then losing to the Netherlands 3-0 in the third place match [25]. Following the end of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, head coach Scolari resigned and Neymar blamed the Brazilian youth soccer system, stating that “We always trained…. You train more [than Europeans], but sometimes you train with less determination. That’s how Brazilians are” [26].


Click here to return to the Players to Watch home page.

Continue on to Group A – Cameroon: Samuel Eto’o

Group A – Croatia: Darijo Srna

Group A – Mexico: Javier Hernández

Click here to return to the CONMEBOL page.

Learn about Brazil’s National Anthem



How to cite this article: “Neymar” Written by Ramsey Al-Khalil (2013), World Cup 2014, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, (accessed on (date)).


Works Cited:

1. “Soccer prodigy Neymar is at home in Brazil”. The Age. Retrieved 10 July 2012.

2. “Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior – The World’s Hottest Property?”. Back Page Football.

3. “Performance by the under-12 Briosa almost did Neymar hit with São Paulo”. 7 January 2013. 4. “The Trajectory of a Soccer Star – Neymar”. 7 January 2013.

4. “Neymar”. ESPNFC. Retrieved 2 March 2015.

5. “Neymar: without Pep Guardiola on the Barce bench”. Merca Foot.

6. “Meninos da Vila comandam a festa de encerramento do Paulistão 2010” (in Portuguese). 4 May 2010.

7. “Sky Sports Scout – Neymar”. Sky Sports. 8 April 2010.

8. “Report: Kashiwa Reysol v Santos FC – FIFA Club World Cup – ESPN Soccernet”. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-12.

9. “Neymar sheds tears in emotional last match with Santos”. inside World Soccer. 27 May 2013.

10. “Brazilian forward Neymar says he is joining Barcelona, will sign the contract on Monday”. Associated Press. 25 May 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-26.

11. “11-Neymar Jr. Statistics 2014/2015.” FC Barcelona. Retrieved 2 March 2015.

12. “Brazil’s Dunga unfazed by critics”. CNN. 18 May 2010.

13. “Neymar scores on Brazil debut”. ESPN Soccernet. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2010.

14. “Neymar renews Brazil’s number 10 love affair”. Inquirer. 16 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013.

15. “Neymar’s new model girlfriend Soraja Vucelic shows off her incredible bikini body”. DailyMail. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2015.

16. “Neymar wins best player, and yes, Torres picks up another award”. NBC. 30 June 2013.

17. “Neymar: without Pep Guardiola on the Barce bench”. Merca Foot.

18. “PES 2012 cover adds Neymar in North America”. new game network. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2011.

19. “Neymar tops list of most marketable athletes in the world”. SportsPro Media. 8 May 2013.

20. Blakeley, Robbie. “Neymar Can Lead Brazilian Selecao to World Cup Glory in 2014”. Bleacher Report. 12 Sept 2013. Accessed 5 Dec 2013. Available:

21. “Neymar – England vs. Brazil Interview”. YouTube. 5 February 2013.

22. Trevisani, Daniel. “Neymar was touched by God” – Daniel Alves”. ScaryFootball. 13 Sept 2013. Accessed 7 Dec 2013. Available:

23. “Neymar: Brazil forward out of 2014 FIFA World Cup with back injury”. BBC Sport. 4 July 2014. Accessed 2 March 2015. Available:

24. Riccobono, Anthony. “Neymar Injury Video: Hard Foul on Brazil Star Prompts Questions Before Upcoming World Cup 2014 Semifinal”. International Business Times. 7 July 2014. Accessed 2 March 2015. Available:

25. “Dutch down Brazil, seal third place”. 12 July 2014. Accessed 2 March 2015. Available:

26. Schwartz, Nick. “After disastrous World Cup, Neymar admits Brazil is ‘behind Germany and Spain'”. For The Win – USA Today. 21 July 2014. Accessed 2 March 2015. Available:

4 thoughts on “Brazil: Neymar

  1. Pingback: Players to Watch at the 2014 World Cup | Nepali Paan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *