Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: . Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Brazilian Soccer Player
Currently Known For:
Member of Paris Saint-Germain
2009 - Present
February 5, 1992
Brazilian Soccer Player
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Brazil has always been a hotbed for soccer, where the sport is the absolute king. If you can become the best player in the country, then you’re pretty much royalty in Brazil. Currently, the country’s best player is Neymar Jr, who leads the national team and also has a club career in which he’s been at the top of his game. His fame around the world has also made him one of the richest athletes on Earth.
Neymar was born on February 5, 1992 in Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil with the full name Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. Neymar’s family didn’t have much money while he was growing up, but he was still able to excel on the football pitch. “My father always told me I liked the ball more than I like playing soccer,” Neymar said. “Since I was a young kid, I was always skilled with it, dribbling furniture around the house. That’s how I see football - fun and dynamic - and this goes beyond me; it’s a characteristic of Brazilian football.”
Neymar’s father was able to get him into the sport almost as soon as he could walk. Talking about how his dad gave him a soccer ball in his crib, Neymar said “I'm sure it had a big influence on me becoming a player. Whenever I could, I went with my father to training and matches so I grew up in that environment. He was the one that taught me to play and gave me advice about football from when I was little...He always says that he was a player that tried hard. I remember my father more as a football towards the end of his career, because I was very little when he first started playing.”
Neymar earned his first contract shortly after turning just 11 years old. Neymar signed with Santos FC with their youth club, working his way up the ladder through his teenage years to join the professional team in 2009 before his 18th birthday.
It was clear that Neymar was a rising star for Santos, playing in just over 100 matches from 2009 to 2013, netting 54 goals for his squad. By the end of his time there, Neymar was considered the best player in Brazil and all of South America, becoming part of his home country’s national team in 2010. He’s played in two World Cups with Brazil, and has 60 goals in nearly 100 appearances for the national team in his career.
Though there was some controversy regarding the finances of his transfer to Europe, Neymar would join FC Barcelona in 2013. This helped propel Neymar’s star status even further, especially as Barcelona found success as a squad. Overall, Neymar appeared in 123 matches with Barcelona, and scored 68 times.
“Right now I’m living my boyhood dream, which was to play for a European club,” Neymar said during his time with the team. “The fact that it’s a huge club like Barcelona makes it a tremendous honor. I like everything about the city: the climate, the people. It’s quite similar to Brazil, which helps a lot. There’s even a beach.”
Then, Neymar found himself transferring with some controversy once again. This time around, Neymar’s release was bought out by Paris Saint-Germain, the French club that seemingly has an endless amount of money. A lawsuit was filed by Barcelona to get back more of the money, but his career went on. He signed a very large contract with Paris Saint-Germain that made him among the highest paid players in the world, and he helped the team to win a title.
“I know that it is a huge responsibility to be the captain,” Neymar said. “The number 10, but I like it. I like the responsibility, the pressure and I like playing football.”
It didn’t come without more controversy, however. After winning the Coupe de France, Neymar was caught on tape punching a fan that was taunting him and his teammates, which caused him to be suspended. Despite some of the issues, Neymar is still certainly considered among the world’s best players, especially with 156 goals in his first 262 club matches. He’s also one of the highest paid, with just Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of him.
Talking about his game, Neymar says that “When I’m on the field, the trick I like to do the most are stepovers. For me, it’s a simple beautiful dribble that also has a point,” adding that “I’ve learned my tricks watching videos on the internet with friends. I’m always trying to copy what I’ve seen at home, what I learned from my friends. But you have to repeat it again and again to get it right on the field.”
He wants to keep up his game in the future, too, saying “I just want to be better every day, to get better every day, not to be better than anyone else (in particular).” Neymar said that “Football, particularly Brazilian football, is about being happy, and that’s what tricks do. It’s part of our culture, at the end of the day, though, it’s all about winning.”
It will be interesting to see what club Neymar plays on in the future, however. He has been at odds with the executives of Paris Saint-Germain, and there are talks that he might be making his way to Barcelona. After all, Neymar said that his best feeling was when he was playing with Barcelona, scoring the sixth goal for the team against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League to cement a massive aggregate comeback. There have even been reports that Neymar has told his former Barcelona teammates that he plans on returning.