Neymar never wanted to take Brazil No. 10 shirtThe Paris Saint-Germain star is now established in that jersey for club and country, but admits that he initially wanted to steer clear of it
Neymar has embraced the No. 10 jersey with Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain, but he claims to have initially wanted to steer clear of it.
As the most creative influence for club and country, the 26-year-old is the logical choice to don a number associated with attacking flair.
Within the Brazilian national set-up, an iconic shirt has been graced down the years by the likes of Pele, Zico, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho.
Neymar has inherited it for the modern era, as the new talisman for a demanding South American nation, and appears to be completely at home in that role.
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That has not always been the case, though, with there a desire on his part upon breaking through at Santos to follow in entirely different footsteps.
Neymar told UOL Esporte: “Robinho was always my biggest idol and therefore at Santos I wanted to play with the number seven and started using it.
“Then Robinho came back and I had to respect him, so I took 11, which was the second option I liked the most.”
Neymar had been hoping to take one of those shirts after establishing himself in the Brazil squad, but that decision was taken away from him in 2013.
He added: “Before the Confederations Cup, [Luiz Felipe] Scolari was distributing the numbers and I told him that I liked seven and 11.
“Dani Alves, however, looked at me and said: 'You are the 10, put it on. You have to use it'.”
Neymar did get his wish of wearing 11 upon completing a move to Barcelona in the same summer as he tasted Confederations Cup glory on home soil.
With Lionel Messi already filling the No. 10 spot, the Brazilian had to take a different jersey at Camp Nou.
He is, however, back in 10 at PSG, with a record-breaking €222 million (£195m/$256m) deal having taken him to the French capital in 2017.
Neymar has managed 39 goals in just 41 appearances while with the Ligue 1 champions, while he now has 59 in 94 outings for Brazil.