Home Winner: An interview with Brazil World Cup superstar Neymar
The World Cup is just days away, and thanks to the Red Bulletin app, Betting Instinct is able to provide you an exclusive sneak-preview of an interview with Brazil’s golden boy Neymar.
The 22-year-old is second-favourite for the Golden Boot (11.00 with AllYouBet.ag), and in this interview he speaks about his World Cup memories, and the pressure of leading his home country to a potential World Cup triumph on home soil.
The Red Bulletin: How do you deal with the pressure of the whole country asking you to win the World Cup?
Neymar: It’s been a dream since I was young, and today it’s right before me: I’m Brazil’s number 10, I’m going to play the World Cup, in my own country. I can’t see that as pressure. It has to give me pride and happiness to take onto the pitch. Everyone says winning the World Cup is an indescribable joy, so I’m dying to feel that myself. I can’t wait to shout “We’re champions!” They say, “You’re under pressure, being the big name in the squad.” I’m not under pressure, I’m happy. I’ve always done things my way. I’ve had press with me since I was 13, saying I’d be the new Robinho. I’m someone who doesn’t really worry. If you don’t tell me that I’m Neymar and that I play for Barcelona and Brazil, I’ll forget it. People imagine me as they see me on television, but I’m completely different because I don’t feel pressure about anything.
What are your memories of Brazil’s last victory in the World Cup, in 2002?
I was 10, so I understood football. I woke up before dawn to watch the final at home. I even had Ronaldo’s haircut. I watched with my parents and sister, everyone together. Then we went to my granny’s house, we had a barbecue, everyone shouting “We’re Champions!” like real fans. The World Cup has always been my goal in life. It’s funny that today it’s nearly come true.
Your gift is dribbling. Did you copy feints from other players?
I followed Robinho closely because when I went to Santos, he was the star there. He’s my idol, and he dribbled a lot. And I’d watch Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo; any skilful player you can think of, I’ve seen videos of them. In kickabouts or training, I’d try and do the same. When it was game time it would come naturally. All dribbles where you’re trying something different, it’s about practising them. I don’t have a trick that I’ve invented yet. I have normal dribbles like using your body to trick the opponent, or the step-over, which I train and use a lot. I’ve used Zidane’s roulette. I’ve copied a lot.
Has dancing helped develop your football?
I think every Brazilian likes to dance a little. Put on some music that gets you in the mood, and a Brazilian might be sitting down, but he’ll always dance a little. I come from a family that loves samba and pagode. I think I have a little Brazilian ginga, something in the hips. I love to mess around with friends, to dance. It even got into my goal celebrations at Santos: that‘s how we’d have fun, scoring and doing dances in tribute to a singer friend or to the song.
Your football looks joyful. Do you still feel joy playing or is it more a job now?
It’s fun that has to be managed. You must be serious with it. But I’m always happy when I play. When you’re happy, things naturally work out; when you’re sad, things never work out.
How do you look back on your first season at Barcelona?
It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad. It’s my first time living outside my country. I miss my friends and family. It was hard at first. I’ve learned a lot, professionally, but also in my personal life. I study my teammates, what they talk about, how they act with other people. I take a little from many players and adapt it to my style. Some people are good on the pitch, others off it, some show good behaviour in training. I pick attributes from each one.
What’s surprised you about Lionel Messi, seeing him every day here?
He surprised me in every way. Before coming here, I heard all the horrible things people say: that he’s very reserved and doesn’t talk to anyone. Now I see it completely differently. Aside from being the genius, off the pitch he’s always great with me – not just me, but when I see him with other people too. There’s nothing bad I can say about him.
Will Brazil win the World Cup?
It’s what I want more than anything.
Q&A courtesy of The Red Bulletin, Red Bull’s tablet app for all things sport and culture. Image ©David Clerihew/The Red Bulletin. You can read the full article by downloading July’s issue of the Red Bulletin app.
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TOM VICTOR (editor) is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+.