It’s fair to say Neymar isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Too flashy for some, too arrogant for others, the Brazilian’s transition into the world’s most expensive player hasn’t won him a great number of fans across the footballing spectrum.
But what we sometimes forget is the human side of the Paris Saint-Germain star, but if you’re in his good books (look away Edinson Cavani), you could be in line to flourish alongside the Brazilian forward.
One such beneficiary is Manchester City star Gabriel Jesus, who has written a Players’ Tribune column about his career, but notably includes one story about Neymar, and specifically his role at the 2016 Olympics.
Jesus takes up the story: “That 2016 tournament was so special for Brazilians, because the Olympic gold was the only trophy that the Country of Football had never won before.
“I remember the weight of the tournament was so heavy — not just because it was in Rio, but because of what had happened at the last World Cup.
“After we didn’t play well in our first two games, the criticism was really intense, especially on Neymar. I really admire Neymar so much for how he handled everything and how he led our team.
“But with Neymar, he treated everybody like his brother. You know, before that tournament, I was just a fan of Neymar, like everybody else.
“He’s an incredible footballer, which everyone knows. But getting to really know him during that time… it was so special, because of the kind of person he is.
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“The way that he treats everybody surprised me a lot — because even in the short amount of time that I’ve lived in football, I’ve seen so many guys who are not even amazing players, who haven’t won anything, being mascarado.
“This means a person who wears a mask. They’re one way to the public, and another in the dressing room. But with Neymar, he treated everybody like his brother. He was a huge reason that we were able to come together and ignore the pressure and play for one another.”
Neymar scored the winning penalty for Brazil in their home games at the Rio Olympics, beating Germany in the final of the tournament before breaking down in tears on the pitch.