As a new decade begins, Neymar Jr spoke about his tough 2019 with injuries, why he thinks PSG can win the Champions League and reveals two dream five-a-side teams featuring players past and present as well as four players he wishes he had played alongside. The striker reveals all ahead of the fifth edition of Red Bull Neymar Jr’s Five. Here is what the the 27-year-old striker had to say in Paris.
What did you learn about yourself in 2019?
Professionally and personally, 2019 was a tough year for me. It was a year full of learnings and turnarounds. I injured myself and had to come back. Then I injured myself again. Although it seems like a bad year, it was a year full of learnings and lots of experiences. I am taking the positive side of it so that 2020 can be better.
Do you think PSG can win the Champions League this year?
Yes, I think there’s a possibility we can make it. In terms of the team and players, since I’ve played for PSG, this is the most prepared and strongest year we had in my opinion. So, I think we have a chance. Although PSG has never won the Champions League, we are going to fight for this title. We know our values and we hope to be in the final.
At 27, do you feel like you are still improving and your peak is still to come?
Yes, like everything in life. Many good things happened in my life already but I always want more. I’m always seeking new challenges, and I always want to overcome myself. Hopefully, each match and each thing that is coming will bring something good for me.
What are your expectations for 2020?
My biggest expectation for 2020 is to win everything I can with PSG and the Brazilian team. I’ll seek new challenges, I want to be in the Champions League final, I want to win the Copa America once again. These are the challenges I intend to overcome in 2020.
Are there any players you would have liked to play side-by-side with, but never got the chance?
This is a tough one. There are too many players I would like to have played with. Can I mention more than one? Romario is one of them, Ronaldo too, although I played during his ‘farewell’, and Zinedine Zidane and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
If you had the chance to build a Red Bull Neymar Jr’s Five team with non-Brazilian players who are still playing, who would you choose?
A team with players that are still playing: Messi, Saurez, Mbappe, Pogba and Hazard. A team with retired players: Xavi, Lampard, Gerrard, Beckham and Henry.
You’re friends with Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr. How far can these players get with both Brazil and their respective clubs?
Both of them are amazing players. They are playing very well for Real Madrid. I’m cheering for them so they can win a lot of things with Real. They are young and have come to Europe recently, so they will have a lot of experience ahead, they will grow up and will get even better than they are right now. Brazilian people are a little bit anxious - people want fast results, want to see them winning every championship but it’s tough. The adaptation is hard, it’s hard to start playing your best in a club like Real Madrid or Barcelona. But both are playing very well so this is already a sign of a great personality. I hope they keep on this path, they keep focused and that they never forget to be happy. I’ll be supporting them.
About Red Bull Neymar Jr’s five
Red Bull Neymar Jr’s Five is the Brazilian star’s signature five-aside tournament bringing players aged 16 to 25 from all corners of the world together to celebrate their shared passion: football. It is a fast, technical and fun competition. More than 40 countries from six continents will be hosting tournament qualifiers, where players will compete with the same dream of making it through the qualifiers, to their national final to book a ticket to the World Final, which will be celebrated for the fifth time at Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr in Praia Grande, Brazil.
About Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr
The location of the World Final, Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr, is a private, non-profit association dedicated to social causes, set up by Neymar Jr and his family. It is located in Jardim Glória, in Praia Grande, where Neymar Jr spent much of his childhood. The Institute is an 8,400m sq education and sporting complex catering for 2,470 underprivileged children aged seven-14 and their families.
Neymar Jr is seen (above) during Red Bull Neymar Jr’s Five 2020 Pre-Season Shoot in Paris, France. Picture Credit: Hadrien Picard/Red Bull Content Pool
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