If you’ve watched Neymar play soccer for a couple of years, then you’ll know that he’s one of the most skillful athletes in his profession.
The Brazilian international rarely fails to dazzle spectators in the stadium with his locker of tricks and flicks that typically lift fans off of their seats.
Of course, Neymar looks up to certain professionals in the game and is humble enough to credit his success to the coaches and members of his family that have worked with him ever since he was a little teenager.
Neymar also looks up to some very senior players as role models, drawing inspiration from them based on the way in which they play.
So, who is Neymar’s soccer idol?
Well, interestingly enough…
Neymar has publicly stated that he has two soccer idols whom he looks up to. One is Lionel Messi, a player he learnt a whole lot from during practice sessions; through playing with him as well as watching his movements on match days. His other idol is Robinho – who he attributes his current dribbling style to.
Is Messi Neymar’s idol?
Quite clearly, Neymar looks up to his current team mate Lionel Messi.
In fact, one of the main motivators for him to transfer from his boyhood club Santos to FC Barcelona was to play with the Argentinian maestro.
He talked a little bit about the playing contingent of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta when his signing for the Catalan giants was completed in 2013.
Here’s what he had to say at that point in time:
“I’m one of the luckiest men in the world to be able to play with him [Messi] and it’s an honor. I’m very happy to be realizing my life’s dream. To have the opportunity to play with great players I admire like Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta – I’ve begun a new stage of my life and I’m going to be very happy and achieve a lot.”Source – BBC Sport
Can you just imagine having the opportunity to play with a person who you have huge admiration for?
Well, that’s Neymar in the case of himself and Messi.
Funnily enough, Neymar only verbally confirmed Messi as his idol in a recent The Players’ Tribune interview where he was seated with a basketball professional called Steph Curry.
He was quoted as saying:
“I played with Messi who is, for me, one of the greatest footballers of all time, and he is my idol in football.”Source – The Players’ Tribune
You can also check out the video footage from this interview where he relays this thought at the five-minute mark:
Why is Neymar’s other idol – Robinho?
From the bolded answer at the top of this article, another soccer player is listed as being Neymar’s idol.
A fellow Brazilian called Robinho served as an icon that Neymar looked up to during the formative years of his soccer career.
In fact, if you had the pleasure of watching Robinho during his prime years, you’d probably notice a few striking similarities between the two athletes.
Neymar has gone as far as saying that Robinho is his greatest idol in the game; eclipsing the inspirational status that even the legendary Lionel Messi had on his development.
He says that he spent a lot of time trying to imitate Robinho’s array of tricks and flicks, and even claims that he wouldn’t be the talented athlete he is today without having Robinho as a reference point to look up to.
“When I started following Santos, Robinho was my favourite player. He is my greatest idol. Today, I have a lot of them, after learning more about football, but back then I was a huge fan of Robinho’s. I was always trying to do what he did: his dribbles, plays and goals. And I started practicing so that, someday, I could become as much like him as possible.”Source – Goal.com
Who were Neymar’s childhood idols?
Neymar’s list of idols doesn’t simply stop at Lionel Messi and Robinho.
In fact, there are some surprising names here, such as:
- Evair Aparecido Paulino (known as Evair);
- Marcos Roberto Silveira Reis (Marcos in short)
- Rivaldo; and
- Alexsandro de Souza (or Alex)
Evair was a prolific striker who scored a ton of goals for Palmeiras in the 1990s, with Marcos being the club’s goalkeeper and first choice keeper for Brazil in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
On the other hand, Alex was a tricky playmaker who made magic happen from set piece situations on the soccer pitch with his left foot.
And of course, you likely know all about Rivaldo!
All of these guys played for Palmeiras at some point in their careers, and Neymar reveals that he was a fan of the club at the time when the aforementioned names were making their mark on the game.
Who is Neymar’s favorite player?
Neymar apparently doesn’t have one player who he considers as his favorite.
Instead, the Paris Saint Germain forward puts down a list of three names when it comes to this topic.
He says that Ronaldinho, Robinho and Lionel Messi are the players that he loves to watch.
Although he went as far as stating that playing alongside Messi was a unique experience that he was privileged to have.
That bring us to the end of the topic concerning Neymar’s soccer idols.
As you’ll have read, Neymar looked up to a number of players like Lionel Messi and Robinho, not to mention his love for some former Palmeiras players in Rivaldo, Evair, Alex and Marcos.
For more Neymar content, you can have a look at our other blog post that reveals what Neymar’s full name is.