Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior famously known as Neymar or Neymar Jr. plays for French Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain as a forward or winger and also is the current captain of the Brazilian national team. Neymar is widely regarded as one of the best young soccer players due to his amazing acceleration, dribbling skills, finishing and ball controlling ability with both of his feet.
Because of his aggressive playing style and ball control, he is often compared with former Brazilian forward Pelé by fans, media, and former players. He was stated as “an excellent player” by Brazilian legend Pelé. Many other famous players such as Ronaldinho once stated, “He will be the best in the world”.
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Neymar Jr. was born on 5th February 1992 in Mogi das Cruzes, São Paulo. He was raised by his father, Neymar da Silva, Sr., and his mother, Nadine Santos. Neymar Jr. inherited his name from his father Neymar Sr. who is also a former footballer and eventually became his son’s mentor and advisor as Neymar’s talents began to shine. While talking about his father, Neymar Jr. once stated, “My father has been by my side since I was little. He takes care of things, my finances, and my family.”
He loved playing street football during his childhood and while growing up, he combined his love of futsal with street football. Neymar moved to São Vicente with his family in 2003 and he began playing for the youth side of Portuguesa Santista.
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Neymar’s family moved to Santos in 2003 where he joined the famous Brazilian club Santos FC. After his success as a young player and decent income, Neymar’s family bought a house next to the Vila Belmiro. Neymar was earning 10,000 reais per month at the age of just 15 and 125,000 reais per month at the age of just 16. He signed a full professional contract at the age of 17 and eventually upgraded to the Santos first team. During this time, he started receiving sponsorships contracts.
He met and became good friends with Paulo Henrique Ganso while practicing in the youth academy. Neymar traveled to Spain to join the Real Madrid youth team at the age of 14. He was called when Real had some of the greatest soccer players like Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Roberto Carlos, and Robinho.
Neymar made his professional debut at the age of 17 on 7 March 2009. He made a brief appearance as a substitute for the last thirty minutes, in a 2–1 win against Oeste. Neymar scored his first professional goal on the following week for Santos against Mogi Mirim. On 11 April 2009, months later, Neymar scored the decisive goal against Palmeiras in a 2–1 win at the 2009 Campeonato Paulista semi-final first leg.
He scored 14 goals in 48 games in his first season as a professional player. He continued playing for Santos and proved himself as one of the top prospects. Neymar scored five goals in an 8–1 win for Santos against Guarani in the qualifying stages of the Brazilian Cup.
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Santos announced on 24 May 2013, that they had received two offers regarding Neymar’s transfer. Neymar announced the following day that he would sign with FC Barcelona on 27 May 2013. He also stated he will join the team after playing in the 2013 Confederations Cup. Neymar was signed for an undisclosed amount for a five-year deal. Neymar was unveiled by Barcelona on 3 June 2013 after he passes medical tests.
He signed a contract with the Spanish team which would keep him at the club until June 2018. He was presented in front of 56,500 fans at the Camp Nou. It was declared by Club vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu that his transfer fee was €87.2 million and his release clause was set at €190 million.
Neymar made his unofficial debut on 30 July 2013 when he came on as a substitute against Lechia Gdańsk in a preseason friendly. He scored his first goal in a 7–1 win for the club against Thailand XI on 7 August 2013. Neymar made his official competitive debut for Barcelona as a 63rd-minute substitute in a 7–0 win against Levante UD during the opening game of the 2013–14 La Liga season.
He scored his first competitive goal on 21 August against Atlético Madrid in the first leg of the 2013 Supercopa de España. Neymar made his UEFA Champions League debut where Barça defeated AFC Ajax 4–0 in their opening match of the 2013–14 tournament on 18 September. He scored his first goal in La Liga against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou on 24 September.
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Neymar was named as a member of Team Brazil in the 2014 FIFA World Cup on 2 June 2014. He made his 50th international appearance for Brazil team in the opening match of the tournament against Croatia in São Paulo on 12 June 2014. During the very first match in the 26th minute, Neymar has issued a yellow card as he elbowed Croatian star and one of the best midfielders, Luka Modrić.
While challenging for the ball in the quarter-final defeat of Colombia, Neymar was kneed by Juan Camilo Zúñiga in the back. He was removed from the pitch on a stretcher due to this accident. It was revealed that Neymar had fractured a vertebra in his spine in a hospital scan and missed the rest of the World Cup.
He came third in 2010 and won the 2011 South American Footballer of the Year award at the age of just 19. He won the award again in 2012. Neymar received a nomination for the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2011 for the first time and placed 10th on that occasion. He was also nominated for the FIFA Puskás Award which he won for Goal of the Year 2011. Neymar was also voted Best Young Player of the Campeonato Paulista in 2009.
He was voted best player as Santos won the 2010 Campeonato Paulista. He achieved the top scorer position with 11 goals in the 2010 Copa do Brasil. Neymar was named on the 10-man shortlist for FIFA’s Golden Ball award on 11 July 2014. He received the Bronze Boot as the tournament’s third top goal scorer. Neymar was inducted in the World Cup All-Star XI.
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He is a true Christian by heart as he once stated about his faith in Christianity, “Life only makes sense when our highest ideal is to serve Christ!” It is known that he tithes equivalent to 10% of his income to his church. Neymar named another Brazilian legend Kaká as his religious role model. He became a father to a son at age 19 in August 2011.
Neymar is not in a relationship with the baby’s mother Carolina Dantas. His son, David Lucca, was born in São Paulo. Neymar once stated about his son, “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.” He also described his son as a “2.8 kilograms of pure happiness”.
Neymar recently starred with other global football stars including Thierry Henry and Luis Suárez in a 2014 advert for Beats. The theme of the ad was ‘The Game Before The Game’. It was about the players’ pre-game ritual of listening to music. Neymar signed an 11-year contract with the American sportswear company Nike in March 2011. Panasonic also signed him for two years with US$2.4 million in the same month of his Nike deal.
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Besides, Neymar also signed many other sponsorship contracts such as Volkswagen, Tenys Pé Baruel, Lupo, Ambev, Claro, Unilever, and Santander. He has earned a total of an estimated €20 million per year through all of his sponsorships. He was named the most marketable athlete in the world by SportsPro magazine on 8 May 2013.
Neymar has so far presented the football fans from around the world with some of the greatest moments and performances that were seen in modern football. Having achieved what he has at such a young age, it is expected that he will master the sport and give even greater performances. Also known for his great appearance, Neymar is the current soccer heartthrob of the world.