As a child growing up, I dreamed the same dream as every youngster. Become a professional footballer, win plenty of trophies for club and country, retire a legend.
However, the modern day player has plenty of other things to play for – most notably money. And, with the wealth that comes at the very highest level, you have pitfalls.
If reports are to be believed, it appears Brazilian sensation Neymar is falling into a trap that many have before, and many will in the future. If that is the case, then the simple question must be: what can be done about this?
The simple solution must be education. In England, top clubs now give their players media training for life in the public spotlight, but also personal advice on how to avoid potential problems in later life.
What a club can’t do, however, is keep your finances in check. And, when a player like Neymar starts earning huge wages, it’s difficult to say no.
A report in Forbes magazine earlier this week claims the 20-year-old, dubbed the world’s best footballer by compatriot Pele, is spending vast amounts of money on a variety of things.
Properties, cars and an $8 million yacht are just some of the purchases in the last two years, as well as $15,000 in child support for his baby son and $10,000 in maintenance for his boat on a monthly basis.
Bizarely, in the world of football, it’s easy to dismiss this kind of spending as relatively normal. You presume he can afford it.
However, Forbes goes on to suggest that the player is earning ‘just’ $8 million-a-year in annual earnings both on-and-off the field. That’s less than half of the reported figure in the national press in the player’s homeland.
“No doubt he’s probably overspending. I wouldn’t put it past Santos to be supporting the behavior to keep him there. One of my UK sports sources says they want to keep him from going to Europe and have been bending rules to make him happy,” claimed sports writer Christina Settimi.
It’s not just a football problem either, with numerous examples from the world of NFL and boxing available to show how things shouldn’t be done.
Stability in life can be a key factor in helping a player stay grounded, and Neymar’s father insists the Santos youngster’s finances are in good order.
"I guarantee that Neymar's life is well looked after. There is no way this (bankruptcy) is going to occur," said Neymar da Silva Santos.
New York Daily News suggests the player has at least 10 private sponsorship deals, with attachments to Nike, Red Bull, Konami, Panasonic and Santander.
This all suggests that, providing Neymar continues to deliver on the pitch, he should be able to stay clear of trouble. The problem is that, when others see such a player spending huge figures, they want to do the same themselves.
Neymar must realise that he is now a role model for others, and whilst he’s only just left his teenage years behind, he’ll need to embrace adulthood with a much more sensible approach to his finances.