Neymar always wanted to be like Beckham and modelled his game & style on Man Utd legend

David Beckham PSG Barcelona 2013Getty Images

Neymar admits to having grown up wanting to be like Manchester United legend David Beckham, with the Brazilian modelling his game on the ex-England captain.

A starry-eyed youngster who took his first tentative steps towards superstardom in Sao Paulo took inspiration from iconic figures in Europe long before carving out his own career there.

When bursting onto the scene at Santos, and attracting interest that would eventually take him to Barcelona, Neymar was looking towards Beckham for inspiration.

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He has become a role model in his own right, with a spell at Camp Nou and subsequent stint at Paris Saint-Germain seeing him rise to the top of the world game and become the most expensive player on the planet.

Neymar is following in Beckham’s footsteps at Parc des Princes, with the Red Devils academy graduate bringing the curtain down on his career in France, and says it was always his intention to tread a similar path.

"I'm a big fan," the South American forward told Otro of Beckham.

"I remember when I was younger I always followed all types of players, all the big players.

"I followed David because of the way he kicked the ball, because of the amazing passes he gave, because of his goals, because of his determination on the pitch. So, I always followed him.

"For the person he is, the football he played, I think everything came from David."

Neymar PSG Paris Saint-Germain 2019-20Getty Images

It was not just on the field, though, that Neymar looked up to Beckham.

Away from it, a man who transcended football at the turn of the 21st century was also held up as a fashion icon.

Neymar has also taken inspiration there, with the 28-year-old famed for his flamboyant appearance – which recently included dying his hair pink – and elaborate outfits.

"I copied quite a few of his haircuts," Neymar added on a man who became known around the world as ‘Golden Balls’.

"Many, we model ourselves after him. I think he is one of the most stylish people in the world, so we need to copy him. We are not as handsome as him, but we try to copy him!

"I think we needed to have a pioneer, someone who was brave enough to do this. I think the courage David has is a symbol of this. I am also criticised for getting a different haircut, or for wearing a different outfit. I think the criticism never ends.

"But players like us, who are seen as a reference, like it or not, we are treated differently for wearing a more modern outfit. I don't think there's anything wrong with it if it makes us feel good.

"So I thank David for being the pioneer, for opening the doors to the fashion world."

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