Neymar da Silva Santos Junior

Whether you’re a football fan or know nothing about the game, it’s hard not to recognise the famed Neymar da Silva Santos Junior. Known for his acceleration, speed, dribbling, finishing and impeccable control of both feet, Neymar Jr’s unique game style won fans’, media’s and former players’ admiration, while Ronaldinho once foresaw, “He will be the best in the world.” 

Exclusively for iPremium, the living legend spoke about his World Cup ambitions, daily routine and training, his mental health, his charity work, and much more.

1. How special would winning the upcoming World Cup be for you?
R: The realization of my childhood and professional dream. It will be a joy that I won’t be able to explain and maybe never will.

2. What's the difference between the Neymar Jr in 2018 World Cup and the Neymar Jr in 2022?
R: None. I am the same person, the same athlete. I still have the same will to win the World Cup, ever since it became a reality back in 2014.

3. Having scored 74 goals for your national team, how important is it for you to finally overtake Pele’s goal scoring record of 77 for Brazil this year?
R: “Surpassing” Pelé is impossible. He is the King of Football. A reference for me. In my mind, I wish to become the biggest Brazilian National Team top scorer, not to “surpass” Pelé.

4. Which country in your opinion has the greatest potential in Qatar? Are we in for a surprise?
R: I only think about Brazil and what we should do to play well in the World Cup.

5. Could you tell us more about your training in preparation for the World Championship? Any special routine we should know about?
R: I have always trained, ever since I was a kid, to be in my best shape possible, physically and mentally. This is the way to be prepared for all challenges offered by my profession.

6. How do you manage to stay focused and mentally healthy amid constant pressure of being the best Brazil player of our time (soon to be of all-time, perhaps)?
R: I have always said that I want to be better than myself from yesterday. Physically and mentally. Ever since I decided to become a professional football athlete, I live with pressure from all sides. I’m used to it.

7. Could you speak a bit about your latest social work with The Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr and its impact on thousands of young people and families in Praia Grande?
R: The Instituto is my most beautiful goal! I am grateful to football for giving me the possibility of helping many kids, teenagers and their families down in Praia Grande, where I lived my childhood.
It’s gratifying to see that they can learn, dream and have fun at the Instituto. It was a place developed for them to have the chance to practice and live all kinds of activities. I didn’t get this kind of environment in my childhood, so I’m happy to see that they have more options to chase their dreams.

8. Could you reveal to us a few secrets about your great physical shape? What's you diet?
R: Every athlete needs a balanced training and competitions routine, a good diet and rest. It’s not different from me, as I follow the guidance of professionals working along with me. The biggest secret is discipline.

9. Do you train at home aside from your club's practices?
R: Ever since I came to Europe I have been accompanied by a physical trainer and a personal physiotherapist on a daily basis. They know that I need to have a complement besides the work done at the club. It’s an individualised job that allows me to always be at my best.

10. What's your average day is looking like?
R: Training and resting. Resting is part of training. And amidst all that, I enjoy the company of my family and friends, so that I can get away from football a bit. Family and friends are essential to my mental health.

11. Is it true that you come first to practise and is the last one to leave? What helps you stay so motivated?
R: I love football. This is my biggest motivation. Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming a professional football athlete and I’ve fulfilled my dream. There is no bigger motivation than this one.

Copiright: Arnaud Pyvkа, Rémi Issaly, Sylvain Gautier, Coralie Mapouata-Barlerin @ Puma