So much has been said and written about Neymar Jr, the 22-year-old from Santos being billed as the next Pele – particularly since his controversial move to Barcelona, it's difficult not to head into an interview with preconceptions.
Big money move and below-par form aside, he's one of the most photographed footballers of the moment, he was named the most marketable footballer on the planet by Sportspro and he has the haircut and model girlfriend to boot.
I'm pleased to say I'm not so long in the tooth that I don't get excited by sitting down to interview star footballers like Neymar. But there can be a certain amount of "take a deep breath, here it goes" ahead of sitting down with some of the current generation.
With the out-of-touch, overpaid, media-trained-within-an-inch-of-their-lives types, it can be a challenge.
So, to Barcelona, and the prospect of 20 minutes with Barcelona's record signing – the Brazilian everyone wants to speak to ahead of the 2014 World Cup in his homeland. What did I find?
Well Neymar arrived through the back door at the swanky W hotel on the Barcelona boardwalk- sporting the requisite personalized branded cap, big shades and low slung jeans that show off just a little bit too much of his very expensive designer underwear.
And after taking in how small and slight he is (at least half the size of Cristiano Ronaldo – yes really) it was at that point I got a little bit worried.
As Neymar was ushered through to the green room for his ice cold watermelon juice, nonchalantly leaning on the shoulder of one of his team, looking cooler than a super-sponsored cucumber - I looked down the list of topics I hoped to cover and I came very close to crossing it all out and starting again.
Is he really going to answer my questions about his controversial transfer deal from Santos? Has he even noticed that thousands are protesting against the World Cup back in Brazil? Maybe we should just talk haircuts and play the "yes-no" game for 20 minutes?
I'm pleased to say I was quickly proved wrong. Neymar went about his duties for the scheduled two hours and beyond. He was uber cool - but smiley, and prepared to laugh at himself when he got his lines wrong.
He said “hello” and “thank you” to everyone he dealt with. And – admittedly somewhat bemused – he very graciously accepted the Harrods teddy bear and tin of biscuits presented by one of those working on the event.... as a gift from their mother to his son.
And as his final act of his duty – with a physiotherapy appointment on his injured foot pressing – he shook my hand and sat down. He even turned his cap back to front, so the peak didn't obstruct his face. (Many won't even contemplate that).
Neymar spoke incredibly eloquently about what it will mean to him to represent his country at a home World Cup.
He admitted he thinks about it every hour as the tournament gets closer. He didn't shirk the issues of the protests back home – saying he agrees with the cause to make Brazil better – but "if it’s to protest, then that is done without vandalism and that it’s thinking about the future of Brazil, to improve our country".
Read: Neymar backs peaceful protests
He's obviously very close to his family – and spoke very defensively of his father's role in his move to Barcelona – but he wasn't afraid to criticize those at Santos for their part.
And then there was his confession of his love for One Direction – and the admission that he'd love to collaborate with them one day.
Neymar may be cool – but he's not too cool for school. If he was, surely he'd never admit being a Directioner?
I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him and listening what he had to say – I hope you enjoy watching it.
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Reblogged this on yshine70.
Is this outbreak of affection, what is happening here in Brazil, especially here in São Paulo, the international press divulging it? Because I live in itaquera, near the stadium for the opening of the cup, I have never seen so many people with affection in my life, so there are a few days for the beginning of the world cup, and many tourists will come here, be an alert to the authorities of other countries to inform your citizens to the danger to come to Brazil, because this is a country where everything is under the rags, that must surely are given divulging of the smallest epidemic, hiding the real situation.
Reblogged this on kingtomix's Blog.
He is such a nice guy, really deserves his position.
Yeah though it is basketball that i really like but upon watching Neymar play, i was amazed by his styles, it also pushed me to know him more and again i was impressed by his stature in football world. You can also check out http://www.online-gambling.co.uk/articles/Neymar-da-Silva-Santos-Junior-football-player.asp for his stories.
Wishing footballers and fans an exciting World Cup in Brazil.
Neymar should step up his game,
so many of he,s fans are wetin to see him perform well at world cup
neymar should set up his playing style cos it will help him in future
He is my guy I hope he will great in future good luck
Amanda is a sport anchor and correspondent for CNN International who has covered live events from the English Premier League to the Champions League; Wimbledon to The Boat Race, and Formula 1 to the Olympics. As a specialist in football and Formula One Amanda has interviewed a host of international sporting faces on her travels, including Bernie Ecclestone, Michael Schumacher, Roy Hodgson, Sven Goran Eriksson, Boris Becker, Fernando Alonso, Jessica Ennis, Goran Ivanisevic, Matthew Pinsent, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Webber, Edwin Van Der Sar, Andrew Flintoff, Colin Montgomerie and Jimmy Anderson.
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