After much scrutiny and guess-work, Neymar’s destination in Europe was revealed to be Barcelona. The media frenzy leading up to the signing was typical of the Catalan club.
Barcelona was ridiculed at the hands of Bayern Munich – ironically, the future club of Pep Guardiola – and the La Liga champions were determined to come back next season strongly.
Neymar was on the radar of most, if not all, top European clubs. And of course Real Madrid had to be in the mix as well. Jose Mourinho’s dream of winning his third Champions League was shattered by a rampant Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid sneaked past them in the Copa del Rey final.
All of these games must have been a heavy burden on the 21-year-old and his family. He’s not only moving away from home but also leaving his childhood club, Santos. Nike caught up with Neymar during the launch of their all-new Nike Hypervenom football boots.
Neymar talked about his move to Barcelona, his input in the boot design process, the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil and his footballing heroes. Read the transcript of the complete Neymar interview below.
Question: You’ve already announced about going to Barca. How did you take this decision?
Neymar: It was a decision I took with my family. They helped me a lot. It’s been a dream come true. I’m really happy.
At the same time, I’m a bit sad because I’m leaving my cherished team in a city where I grew up and where I played for nine years in Santos. But I’m even happier to be facing a new challenge and for making a dream come true. Now, I have to enjoy every moment.
Q: You gave the news through Instagram. I believe it’s the first time a player gives this kind of news through Instagram.
Neymar: It was different. I think that Instagram suits me. People know I like to use it all the time. So I think it couldn’t… It really had to be me.
Q: What is the feeling to play in one of the greatest teams in the world?
Neymar: The feeling is like having butterflies in my stomach.
Q: You still feel it?
Neymar: I still feel it. I’ll be fulfilling my dream to be playing with great players, like Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Daniel Alves, Adriano and others who are in the team.
So, I’m anxious to get there, but now we have to focus on the Confederations Cup, that is more important at the moment and to win the title for Brazil.
Q: I wish you all the luck. Really. I hope your talent keeps on being seen as we’ve been seeing it. Let’s talk about the Hypervenom – Is it true that you took part in the design process?
Neymar: I talked with Nike about design, wore some models, some prototypes until it fitted properly and featured what I wanted. It’s a very comfortable football boot. I like boots that are comfortable. Better for fit and touch as well.
Q: Do you remember how was one of your first conversations with the Nike guys?
Neymar: I went to their office. They showed me two models and showed me this one, which I found really beautiful. There were other colors as well, but I cannot talk about those. But I also gave some color suggestions.
It was a great conversation. I like colored boots. I always loved it, so it was a nice, a good conversation that resulted in this wonderful boot.
Q: Have you been to Nike’s headquarters in the United States?
Neymar: I went to Portland. They have great facilities there. I even played football with the employees in their lunchtime game. We had fun there. It was wonderful.
Q: Great. Now I’d like to know about something more specific. When you talked to the designers, what did you ask them to include here?
Neymar: I said that it should be comfortable and improve my game. It can’t be just beautiful and not comfortable. So they managed to make it beautiful and comfortable and with more technology – so this helped me a lot.
Q: Right. Cristiano Ronaldo is Mercurial’s face. Andres Iniesta represents CTR360, Gerard Piqué and Ronaldinho with Tiempo, and now you represent Nike Hypervenom. How’s that?
Neymar: Just to be in the same level as these great players, it already makes me proud of myself. It’s an honor to be part of this team, innovating with a new football boot. And now I hope the boot plays by itself and scores goals for me. And that it helps me out.
Q: Now you’ve talked about it, I want to know about Confederations Cup, are you ready?
Neymar: We’ll be training so we can play a great Confederations Cup and make everyone proud.
Q: What are your expectations for this tournament, both individually and for the team?
Neymar: Individually, I always want to give the most. I want to help the Brazilian National Team the best way possible, whether is with goals, assists or even a slide tackle, whatever. All that matters is to help the team.
And about the team, the important is that we’re united. I think that the Brazilian football is one of the best in the world. It still is and still struggles for this. We have talented players that can take Brazil to the top.
Q: That’s right. Wearing the yellow jersey is great responsibility, even more now that the Cup will be in here Brazil. How do you feel when you wear it?
Neymar: It’s a great responsibility, but it’s a childhood dream come true. We can’t think to ourselves … “Oh, the Brazilian jersey is ‘heavy’”. We have to wear it as if we were playing in our home backyard. We have to honor it, we have to dribble and do whatever it’s possible. We have to be happy.
Q: How old are you?
Neymar: 21 years old.
Q: 21 years old! When Brazil was announced as the World Cup host, you were a lot younger than you are now. Did you dream to play for the Brazilian National Team?
Neymar: I dreamt of being like Ronaldo and Ronaldinho Gaucho.
Q: Were they your idols at the time?
Neymar: They have always been my references. My greatest idol – I’ve always told everyone – was Robinho as he was from Santos and I was always following him, so I’ma great fan. Among others, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Kaká. Many of them.