Neymar has admitted that Robinho and YouTube are responsible for his insane trickery.
The Barcelona star called Robinho his idol in an interview with Goal, while revealing that he learned his skills by watching videos on the internet.
It’s no surprise that Neymar has been heavily influenced by his compatriot. Both learned their trade at Santos before becoming a star in Europe and, of course, represent the Selecao.
SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250-word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay5
Article continues below
They also share a similar play style. Neymar and Robinho both showcase traditional samba flair when they’re on the pitch and use their skills to excite.
The 24-year-old addressed the criticism he has received for ‘showboating’ and also revealed his favourite skill.
Article continues below
The Selecao skipper said: “I started playing football in a school back in Sao Vicente when I was five years old, going towards six. 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.”
Neymar has surpassed Robinho's feats
Some would say that Neymar, even at such an early stage of his career, has surpassed Robinho’s accomplishments.
He sits fifth in Brazil’s all-time scorers list with 46 goals in 69 appearances - Robinho doesn’t crack the top 10.
Neymar is also part of arguably the greatest attacking trio in the history of football alongside Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
But Robinho never fulfilled his potential and lasted only four seasons at Real Madrid and two at Manchester City.
It was his trickery that made Robinho such an attractive player but there is much more to Neymar’s game than simply being skilful.
He continued: “I've learned my tricks watching videos on the internet with friends. “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."
Neymar was criticised for performing a rainbow flick while Barcelona led Athletic Bilbao 3-1 in last season’s Copa del Rey.
Not that he cares.
“I’ve done some tricks that people started talking about,” Neymar added. “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.”
You can’t argue with that. Football is a form of entertainment, after all, and Neymar is perhaps its biggest entertainer.