Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Brazil's most wanted

Santos' young striker Neymar has never been a shy, retiring character on the pitch - his distinctive hairstyle attests to this - and his self-confidence has helped him reach heady heights in Brazil already.

At 18 years of age, Neymar has already scored for the Seleção and been linked with a £20m move to some of the biggest clubs in Europe, including Chelsea and Juventus. After an excellent 2010, his future has been fervently discussed with the January transfer window open, but in an interview with Globo Neymar sought to distance himself from transfer speculation and focus on his own game.

"I am trying to follow in the footsteps of my idols. I am trying to take a bit of Robinho, of Kaka, of Zidane, of Ronaldo and of Romario. [But] I like being myself. I'm very happy with all this recognition," Neymar revealed.

"Playing football is what I enjoy doing, it's this that gives me joy. I've waited so long to get game time that when it comes you have to play with happiness. Being happy - that's how the moves come naturally, the dribbles. That's the secret."

After being told that he had been compared with Pele and Garrincha, the great Brazilian duo of the 1950s and 1960s, Neymar replied that he was humbled by the comparison.

"I am delighted to be compared with either one. They were excellent players and I cannot say anything more. They are two legends of world football," he replied, before moving onto his own start with the Brazilian national team and stressed the need not to become frustrated.

"I've scored a goal, a good start but nothing more. I have to keep looking for good performances in order to help the Seleção. In the heat of the game, when you get nervous and can't beat the centre back, you only want to get past him and score. But this is the defender's job in football, to stop the play. So the attacker needs to play further up.

"I'm not one for inventing dribbles, I copy others. Leave that to Ronaldinho or Robinho, who know how to do that very well. I just try to imitate them."

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