Neymar has admitted that he is still learning daily from training alongside Lionel Messi and said that the selfless qualities of his team-mate have literally left him “speechless”.
essi and Neymar combined brilliantly to defeat Bayern Munich 3-0 in their Champions League semi-final first leg on Wednesday night but the Brazilian appeared even more taken aback by a gesture in Barcelona’s 8-0 rout of Cordoba in their previous match.
Having already scored twice in the match, Messi turned down the chance for his hat-trick and instead allowed Neymar to take a penalty.
“It was a little thing I think but was very welcome,” said Neymar. “He is a guy who is the best in the world, was about to score a hattrick and let me kick a penalty.
It left me speechless, I am really grateful to him for his gesture.
“I am learning every day from him. It is great what he is doing for football history. I love Messi, I admire him more every day.”
Neymar revealed that Messi now stood with Robinho as his football hero but said he would also welcome the signing of Paul Pogba from Juventus, although a major complication for Barcelona is that they are under a transfer ban until 2016.
“He is a great player,” said Neymar. “We would open the gates for him. He is still a young player, younger than me I think. A player of such quality is always welcome.”
Neymar hopes to represent Brazil in the Rio Olympic Games next summer, a tournament that would give him some opportunity to make up for the disappointment of how he was forced out of the World Cup with a back fracture.
It was during the World Cup, though, that Neymar says he “fell in love with” poker to the extent that he now plays every day and has even named his pet dog after the card game. He has also become an ambassador for PokerStars.
And would there be a particular pressure to play in another international tournament in Brazil?
“The pressure is always there, no matter what tournament you are playing,” he said. “There is always pressure in Brazil. I would like to take part in the Olympics - it is a title Brazil has not won yet.”
(© Daily Telegraph, London)