Brazilian soccer star Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, 23, has accomplished much for someone his age. Beloved in his home country and with adoring fans all around the world, Neymar also has 32 million Instagram followers who he keeps updated on his life, hairstyles and whereabouts.
Neymar was born on Feb. 5, 1992 and is a soccer prodigy who won four consecutive Player of the Year awards by the time he turned 21. He is also now the captain of Brazil’s national team.
Neymar now plays as a forward for Spanish club FC Barcelona, the fourth most valuable sports team in the world, alongside Argentinian star Lionel Messi.
Neymar’s name is well known in Brazil where he is the face of over a dozen product endorsements that include banks, cars, sunglasses, perfume, soda, ice cream and sports gear.
The son of a former professional soccer player, Neymar followed in his father’s footsteps. He played street games before joining the youth division of Brazilian club Santos FC at 11 years old.
The rising soccer player turned heads for his distinguishable style — sporting mohawk-style haircuts with bleached blonde highlights.
Neymar’s athletic skill and techniques epitomize the essence of Brazilian football. Paulo Vinicius Coelho wrote in his biography of Neymar, “Planeta Neymar: Um Perfil” (Planet Neymar: A Profile):
“Neymar’s style of play, both aesthetically generous and ruthlessly efficient, has recovered like no other the art at the core of genuine Brazilian football.”
“We had begun to doubt our capacity to produce players who can truly honour this rich tradition. We even began to fear for our footballing identity.”
Neymar was featured on Time magazine’s cover in June 2014.
He is a devoted father to his 5-year-old son, Davi Lucca.
Neymar also has a sister, Rafaella, who he shares a close bond with.
The soccer superstar was featured on the cover of Brazilian Vogue with Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen.
He can often be found sunbathing in Ibiza and mingling with other high-profile celebrities when he isn’t training in the off season.
Neymar is an avid poker player and enjoys hanging out with his group of guy friends during his past time.
His dog’s name is also Poker.
Neymar is also a philanthropist. He opened the Neymar Junior Institute in collaboration with the FC Barcelona Foundation to serve underprivileged children in December of last year and invested $9 million into it. He said on the institute’s opening day:
“I lived two blocks from here and I know how it was in my childhood. I knew we didn’t have opportunities. So this is a giant door for us to give opportunities to the people here.”
The Neymar Jr. Project Institute encompasses a 8,400-square-meter space that includes classrooms, soccer fields and swimming pools. The educational complex will benefit children in Neymar’s hometown of Praia Grande, Sao Paulo, and provide academic classes and activities for about 2,500 students age 7 to 14.
Children eligible for the institute come from families who earn a monthly income of up to $51 per person and live in one of the eight poor neighborhoods of Praia Grande.
The institute exemplifies the soccer star and his father’s, Neymar da Silva Santos, commitment to providing opportunities to children. Neymar’s father, who is also the vice president of the institute, remarked:
“We are very proud of the agreement with the FC Barcelona Foundation. The important thing here is to help these families and provide a better future for their children through sport. My son never had anything like this. I really hope this is just the beginning of something very successful.”