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5 facts you may not know about Neymar

One of the best footballers the world has ever seen.
Khushwant Ramesh

He's considered the third best footballer in the world, the second most marketable athlete in the world and the best Brazilian talent to come into the sport since the great Pele. Neymar is everything a superstar is. He's young, he's bloody talented and he scores goals when he feels like.

At Barcelona, it's the perfect environment for him to flourish. He's got the likes of Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi teaching him the ropes of being a top level professional footballer and he's so far lived up to their expectations having contributed heavily in all of their trophy wins these last couple of years.

But there are some aspects to Neymar that you might have overlooked or some facts about him that you didn't know, we're here to clear all of those blank spaces.

Here are five facts about the ridiculously talented Brazilian you didn't know about:


#5 He was responsible for a Barcelona President’s resignation

Sandro Rosell (L) resigned as president shortly after Neymar’s arrival at Barcelona

Neymar said he always ‘had a dream to play in Europe’ and that dream came true when three clubs – reportedly Barcelona, Real Madrid and English Premier League side Chelsea – all fought for his signature in 2013.

Ultimately, he chose his current club Barcelona, signing a five-year contract with the transfer fee initially disclosed at €57.1 million. He became one of the most expensive transfers ever from a South American club to Europe but not everything ended on a good note.

In 2014, when Spanish tax authorities caught word that Neymar’s transfer to the Catalan club wasn’t as straightforward as it seemed, a hearing was called. The prosecutor’s office in Madrid demanded all the appropriate paperwork from the club about his transfer and when it did arrive, it created shockwaves both within the club and the Spanish football league.

The documents revealed that Neymar had reportedly cost Barcelona a whopping €86.2 million; these irregularities in the paperwork forced then-Barcelona President, Sandro Rosell to resign from the club forcing Vice-President Josep Maria Bartomeu to take over.

#4 He made West Ham United dream

Imagine Neymar as a Hammer!

Neymar’s incredible form for Santos’ youth was attracting a lot of interest from a host of European clubs. While some of the bigger clubs were willing to let him grow in his home country for some more time, current English Premier League side West Ham United wanted to bring him to England.

In 2008, the Hammers were officially the first ever club from Europe to bid for a then-16-year-old Neymar. He hadn’t even had his debut season for Santos but the Londoners were so convinced with his talent that they put in a £12 million bid for his services – the club’s largest ever bid for any player at that time.

Santos turned it down but couldn’t do anything about the attention the bid brought for the youngster. Premier League giants Chelsea immediately caught wind of his presence and deployed a host of scouts to regularly check on him and his performances in Brazil.

#3 He scored his 100th professional goal on his 20th birthday

Been special for a while.

It’s incredible just how good he was in Brazil. For any top-flight footballer, scoring 100 goals in his career is a major landmark and most of the big names reached this feat in their early 20s and maybe even beyond.

But Neymar was so good on his feet, so confident in front of goal, so ruthless when the ball was at his feet that he scored 100 goals a few hours after turning 20. That in itself was enough evidence of the young boy’s talents. Santos had a real gem on their hands and they knew it.

In that 2012 season, Neymar eventually scored 20 goals for Santos helping them win the Serie Brasileiro A title. He was awarded the Best Player and Best Forward trophies for the season. That form, that clinical edge he has is still alive today with him scoring goals left, right and centre for Barcelona.

#2 He’s the only Brazilian athlete to be on the cover of TIME magazine

Not even Ayrton Senna or Pele made it to the cover of TIME magazine.

This may not seem like a big deal but when you put a 20-year-old on the cover of TIME magazine for being a player to watch out for, it puts one thing into perspective: just how much he was adored and worshipped in his home country.

And to think that he got on the cover even though the likes of Ayrton Senna and Pele – Gods in their own right from Brazil – didn't, it outlines just how marketable he was in his own country – even as someone who just outgrew the tag of being a teenager. This was a huge deal for the Brazilian.

Following the release of this cover, which came out in March of 2013, he secured a move to Barcelona disappointing Real Madrid and Chelsea in the process. The club received two offers for his services but he chose his own future and it was to follow the likes of Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

#1 Almost joined Real Madrid as a 14-year-old

The document that confirms Neymar did have a trial with Real Madrid. (Image courtesy: AS.com)

As a tender 14-year-old, Neymar was already setting the field on fire with his runs, his dribbles, his goals and more. Real Madrid, arguably the biggest club in the world, took notice and offered him the chance the join their youth academy in Spain.

With the likes of Ronaldo Nazario, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham and Robinho all at Real Madrid at the time, Neymar’s family flew down to the Spanish capital at the club’s request. He stayed in Madrid for around 19 days reportedly scoring 27 goals in all of the full-training matches he took part in.

The Madrid giants were convinced of his talent and offered to sign him right there but his family weren’t convinced of him growing up in a foreign land. His dad, Neymar Sr, at the time, said, “We’re from a humble family, and in a humble family there is always the question of cultural values. We thought he had to grow up in Brazil. That was the first serious choice we had to make.”

And so he returned to Santos and began an incredible journey through their youth ranks. Neymar has since scored and assisted multiple goals against Real Madrid with Barcelona.

Edited by Staff Editor

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