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The Brazil captain pays tribute to the compatriot he says helped him become the player he is today, while also arguing that he never does a trick or flick for no reason


GOALEXCLUSIVE   

Neymar has told Goal that his greatest idol remains Robinho, revealing that he spent his youth trying to imitate the former Santos star's skills in the hope of one day becoming as good as his childhood hero.

The Barcelona ace is regarded as one of the finest attacking talents on the planet thanks to his blistering pace with the ball at his feet and his vast array of tricks and flicks.

Neymar rather humbly insists, though, that he would not be the player he is today were it not for Robinho, whom he studied closely as a youngster while his future team-mate was wowing the world with his performances for Santos and Brazil between 2002 and 2005.



"I started playing football in a school back in Sao Vicente when I was five years old, going towards six," the Selecao skipper told Goal. "Those were my first steps, among those kids, and then I kept going.

"But when I started following Santos, Robinho was my favourite player. He is my greatest idol. Today, I have a lot of them, after learning more about football, but back then I was a huge fan of Robinho's.

"I was always trying to do what he did: his dribbles, plays and goals. And I started practicing so that, someday, I could become as much like him as possible."



As a result, Neymar - who played alongside Robinho during the latter's loan spell at Santos in 2010 and then again with the national team - spent hours upon hours mastering new moves in order to add his own repertoire of skills.

"I've learned my tricks watching videos on the internet with friends," he explained. "I'm always trying to copy what I've seen at home, what I learned from my friends. But you have to repeat it again and again to get it right on the field.

"When I'm on the field, the trick I like to do most are stepovers. For me, it's a simple, beautiful dribble that also has a point."



Indeed, Neymar dismissed the suggestion that he has ever been guilty of showboating - an accusation that was most infamously levelled at him after last year's Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao.

"I've done some tricks that people started talking about," added Neymar, who netted the Catalans' second goal in a 3-1 win at Camp Nou. "Some caused controversy among people who dislike the 'futebol arte'.

"But I don't care about this. I always dribble for a reason and I always head for the goal."

Check out the best of Neymar Jr’s Crazy Skills, brush up on your own tricks and reproduce the Barcelona star’s best bits of footballing magic by visiting this website…


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