Neymar has revealed that Brazil icon Pele convinced him to stay at Santos rather than move to the Premier League after Chelsea made a "huge" transfer bid in August 2010.
The 22-year-old attacker has starred for the Selecao at the World Cup this summer, scoring four goals as the hosts finished top of Group A to book a clash with Chile in the knockouts.
Barcelona eventually bought the forward last summer in a 57 million euro move that has since caused the Spanish club numerous legal problems, but Neymar claims the president of Santos and Pele both persuaded him to turn down a move to England four years ago.
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The Daily Mail published an extract from the forward's book 'Neymar: My Story - Conversations With My Father' on Friday, which read: "It was August 23, 2010. My father and I had a meeting with president Luis Alvaro at the Santos headquarters, inside the Vila Belmiro.
"Chelsea had made a huge transfer bid. In the middle of our conversation, the president turned off the lights and pointed at an empty chair. ‘This is the chair of the great national sports hero. Since Ayrton Senna’s death, this chair is vacant. If Neymar Jnr stays in Santos and refuses Chelsea’s proposal, he will give his first step to sit in this chair.’
"That made us think. That decision would be a turning point in my life. Even Pele called me. Can you imagine how important I felt? The King of Football called and asked me to stay.
"He reminded me of his entire career with Santos, his five world titles with the national team and the club, and all the recognition he received. It wasn’t easy but it was the right decision for us. We did the right thing for our family, friends and my career."
Neymar scored nine goals in 26 La Liga appearances as Barcelona finished runner-up to eventual champion Atletico Madrid, with Los Rijoblancos securing a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou on the final day to clinch the title.