As Brazil takes on Mexico for the men’s soccer gold medal today at 10 a.m. ET, we’re sure you won’t have a problem keeping an eye out for 20-year-old soccer prodigy Neymar Da Silva Santos Junior, commonly known as simply Neymar. Since Americans are traditionally out of the loop with soccer a.k.a. football, here are seven facts to get you acquainted with one of the game’s brightest young stars.
1. At just 11 years old, Neymar joined Brazil’s legendary Santos FC Academy and nearly left at 14 to join Real Madrid, but Santos paid about 5,000 to keep him on his home turf.
2. He has a flair for the dramatic. Neymar’s often criticized for his tendency to dive in hopes of being awarded a foul. Soccer legend Pelé once said (somewhat) in his defense, “He is a player with a body that can’t take a lot of hits. A lot of times he will fall because he can’t do anything else, but he was overdoing it.”
To be fair, he is quite the featherweight at 5’9″ and 132 lbs. And according to this headband – 100% Jesus.
3. He’s a very young and very adorable father. In August 2011, son Davi Lucca was born to a Brazilian mother who remains unnamed. Neymar described Davi as “2.8 kilograms [6.17 lbs.] of pure happiness.”
4. True to his generation, Neymar has a strong web presence. He’s active on Twitter and Instagram, and regularly updates his own blog. (It’s in Portuguese, though, so have Babelfish open in another tab.) He was fined over ,000 last year for trashing a ref via Twitter.
5. He’s loyal to his country. He has turned down millions upon millions of dollars in offers to join the English Premier League, though lists Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Man U alum Cristiano Ronaldo among his idols.
6. He’s quite the locker room dancer.
7. This goal against Flamengo garnered him FIFA’s 2011 Puskas Award, for the year’s Most Beautiful Goal.
And he scored this insane free kick against Belarus earlier in the Olympics.
Ahh, the Pelé and Lionel Messi comparisons are starting to make sense…
[Photos: Neymar's Twitter, Getty Images]
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