To European football fans, Neymar Junior is about as world-class as they come. He is often talked about and compared to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest footballers ever. The Brazilian forward has accumulated many awards since the start of his career, earning him a spot as one of the best South American players ever.
However, Neymar’s life has not always been so easy. In fact, football gave him and his family a second chance, propelling him into success and stardom.
We will be discussing everything that there is to know about the Brazilian legend, including his childhood story and how he managed to become the most expensive player in history.
The Childhood Of Neymar Junior
Neymar da Silva Santos Junior was born in São Paulo, Brazil, on the 5th of February 1992. From a very young age, the footballing star had a tough life.
Born into almost no money, his parents struggled to put food on the table – in fact, his father had to work multiple jobs in order to provide for his two children and wife.
Even though his upbringing was anything but easy, Neymar has admitted that his family has always been incredibly close.
In fact, Neymar Senior first introduced the young star to the sport of football when playing around in the street of his childhood home.
His Futsal Background
The family never owned a television, meaning that everything he learned about football came from his father and hours of practice.
He actually started his career by developing his talent in Futsal, an indoor game characterized by kicking around a hard football that doesn’t have much bounce.
In this way, Neymar Junior quickly became popular amongst peers on the streets and showed a real talent for the game.
The Start of His Footballing Journey
From very early on, Neymar’s friends and family knew that he was better than most other children his age.
However, they could never have anticipated exactly how much potential he had or what his future would hold.
After developing his Futsal skills, the player quickly moved over to street football. His natural talent became evident during these years.
In fact, he was outplaying men who had been in the game for much longer than him. Even though it was very informal at this point, it was evident that the young Brazilian had plenty of potential.
The Sao Vicente and Santos Youth Teams
After moving to High School in 2003, Neymar’s father decided to enroll him in the Sao Vicente youth team.
However, after his family relocated to Santos, the young player decided to join the Santos youth team, where he stayed for the better part of six years.
Neymar’s First Professional Contract
After playing for the Santos youth team for more than six years, Neymar was offered his very first professional contract.
At the ripe age of just 17, the Brazilian star started earning an income while doing what he loved most in the world.
Santos is one of the biggest clubs in the Brazilian footballing league. In fact, major names, such as Pele, Agustin Cejas, and Carlos Calvan, have had spells at this iconic club.
This means it’s no surprise that young Neymar decided to begin his professional career with them.
Between 2009 and 2013, the Brazilian made a total of 177 appearances for the team. More so, he managed to score 107 goals during this time.
This makes him one of their most successful youth academy players ever. Because of his raw talent and natural ability, some of the biggest clubs in the world were hungry for his signature.
In 2013, Neymar played his last game for his mother club and left Brazil in order to continue his career in Barcelona.
His Years at Barcelona
When talking about the biggest football clubs in the world, Barcelona FC has to be up there with the greats.
In fact, many experts will tell you that this team, along with Real Madrid and Manchester United, are the most accomplished and wealthiest clubs out there.
So, it was no surprise when young Neymar decided to pursue his career by playing for this Spanish giant. This meant he would be playing in one of the best leagues in the world.
But he would also be playing alongside some of the best players, such as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves, Carlos Puyol, and Rafinha.
His Success for the Club
Many inexperienced players would crumble under this sort of pressure, but Neymar only thrived.
In just a few short months, the forward earned the respect and appreciation of Barcelona fans everywhere. More so, he formed part of one of the best and most successful striking trios in the world.
The Brazilian managed to score a total of 68 goals in 122 appearances, earning him a spot in Barcelona history.
The Most Expensive Player in Footballing History
Even though the star was finding so much success in Spain, he always felt as though he was playing in the shadow of Lionel Messi.
For this reason, he decided that it would be best for his career to play in a different league – more specifically, Ligue 1.
After more than 4 years in LaLiga, Neymar signed a contract with French giants PSG. As if the transfer wasn’t big enough, it also made history by being the most expensive deal in footballing history.
In total, Paris Saint-Germain spent 222 million Euros to sign the striker – to put this in perspective, the player cost a whopping 80 million more than the second most expensive player.
His PSG Record
Neymar has made a total of 63 appearances for the club since signing in 2017.
He has also managed to score 53 goals, an impressive record that places him amongst PSG’s best-ever players.
At 29 years of age, the Brazilian has achieved major success and is expected to continue playing at the highest level for years to come.
The Accomplishments of Neymar Junior
As we have already mentioned, Neymar Junior has achieved plenty of success during his professional career.
He has received numerous accolades and awards in his time. Even though he went up against footballing greats, he still walked away with the South American Player of The Year award in 2011.
Even more impressively, he won it again in 2012. At the young age of 19, Neymar became one of the most successful South American stars ever.
In fact, he is widely considered to be up there alongside legends, such as Ronaldinho, Maradona, and Messi.
The Puskas Award
The Puskas Award is given out every year in order to merit the player who scored the best goal during that specific season.
Some of the best players in the world, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimović, have claimed this trophy.
However, in 2011, nobody could fault FIFA for awarding the honor to an 18-year-old Neymar Junior. His season had simply been phenomenal, earning him a place in the history books.
In his 12 years of playing as a professional footballer, Neymar Junior has won his fair share of league titles. His first taste of success came during his Brazilian days.
In 2010, 2011, and 2012, the player won the Campeonato Paulista with Santos. After joining Barcelona, the star managed to win two LaLiga titles during the 14-15 and 15-16 seasons.
And lastly, the Brazilian striker has won a total of three Ligue 1 campaigns. However, this number is expected to increase before the end of his career.
Neymar has also featured in two Olympic Game Campaigns for Brazil. During the 2012 London Olympics, he helped his team reach the final – however, they walked away with the silver medal.
In 2016, the Brazilian team was determined to improve upon the previous year.
Once again, they made it to the final and managed to beat Germany in the battle for gold.
The Natural Talent of Neymar Junior
One thing that has never been questioned when it comes to Neymar Junior is his natural talent.
Unlike many footballers who train for hours on end in order to play at the highest level, Neymar has always been extremely gifted when it comes to the sport.
In fact, Neymar’s coach at Santos admitted that he had never worked with a player who had such an instinctive ability on the ball.
However, on top of this natural talent, the Brazilian forward is also an incredibly hard worker.
Greatest Football Player
For this reason, it is easy to see why he has achieved so much in the sport.
Neymar Junior is widely considered to be one of the best football players in the world right now.
The Brazilian star started playing from a very young age and displayed natural talent from early on.
After signing a professional contract with Santos, some of the biggest clubs in the world were determined to earn his signature.
The striker has played for football giants, including Barcelona FC and Paris Saint-Germain. He has also won numerous awards and accolades in his time.