Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior – far better known as simply ‘Neymar’ – is widely regarded as one of the world’s top football players. The current Paris St. Germain forward and stalwart of the Brazilian national team made his professional debut aged seventeen. Neymar came to worldwide prominence after moving to Europe to sign for Barcelona, where he joined Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in an attacking trio which ultimately led to the club securing the continental treble: winning La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League. His status as a worldwide star was assured after a move to PSG in 2017. The transfer was worth an eyewatering €222 million, making him officially the most expensive player ever.
Neymar has since led PSG to their first-ever Champions League Final and today trails only behind Pele for total goals scored for his national team. Off the pitch, Neymar is one of the most prominent athletes in the world, ranking as the highest-paid footballer in 2018 and being listed by Time magazine in 2017 as one the 100 most influential people on the planet. Neymar has taken part in several high-value sponsorship deals and is an instantly recognisable face as well as a global household name.
The player attributes his footballing success to a number of factors, most prominently his father, Neymar Snr., a footballer in his own right who instilled in his son an ironwork ethic from a young age and even today acts as his mentor and coach. Neymar also cites his younger years playing futsal – a football game played on a smaller hard court – as teaching him how to react quickly, with control, in tight spaces.
Unsurprisingly, Neymar keeps on top of his game with a gruelling training regime and a strong philosophy of food as fuel. He loves carbohydrates and consumes plenty of food throughout the day. Intermittent fasting or cyclical ketosis is not for this athlete.
Like most top-flight athletes, Neymar employs a personal trainer, a physical therapist, and a nutritionist to stay on top of his game and in peak physical condition. Although most of his day is devoted to training, he is a noted family man and makes sure to spend time every day with his father and sister. He continues to live with his father, and Neymar Snr. continues to be a huge influence on him.
Regarding his philosophy and attitude towards training, Neymar has been quoted as saying “I’m always trying to perfect everything – dribbling, shooting, headers and control. You can always improve.” The proof that he follows through on such a desire for betterment is clearly in evidence every time he steps onto the pitch; he is known as a deft dribbler, adept at feints, has several tricks in his repertoire (including the famous “rainbow flick”, of which he is a notable exponent), and is a prolific goal scorer who can score with both feet and the head.
Neymar rises at 6.30am every day and is busy with team football practice from 9.00am to 12:.00am. It is presumably during this session that he hones many of his technical skills as he trains with world-class teammates. The player is known to be constantly practicing technical tricks and skills and, even outside of his team training hours, he is known to take a ball with him wherever he goes. He is fond of kicking balls down hallways, finding new novelty football-derived games with which to test his skills. He is particularly fond of the game Futtoc, which is best described as footballised version of ping-pong, which requires the skill to pass a ball back and forth across a ping-pong table with kicks and headers. Hardly ever seen without a football, it would be no exaggeration to say that the game is Neymar’s entire world.
After a two-hour break for lunch with his teammates, Neymar thereafter begins his daily gym workouts with a personal trainer. These workouts follow a set plan but are also frequently altered to suit whatever areas of body strength he wishes to improve.
After an hour-and-a-half in the gym, he has a daily session with his physical therapist, who ensures the star is in the best position to avoid injury and to catch any incipient issues before these cause a physical problem.
Health and Fitness
As we have seen, Neymar’s typical day involves a great deal of physical exertion from his morning football practice with his teammates through to his afternoon gym workouts. It is for this reason that he also engages in daily physical therapy sessions.
Over his career, Neymar has suffered a number of injuries, which have caused him to miss lots of games and necessitated time off. The worst of these came in January 2019 when a metatarsal fracture sent him out of the game for 85 days. In June of that same year, he also suffered a ruptured ankle ligament which necessitated 63 days off.
Despite these fairly serious setbacks, it would be an understatement to say that Neymar has access to the best physical care possible. At team training sessions and matches alike, he is naturally surrounded by the best physiotherapists and equipment to respond to injuries in the timeliest manner possible. Naturally, the world-class venues at which Neymar both practices and plays are equipped with both first aid kits for initial responders and the best rehabilitation equipment to get him back on the pitch as soon as possible. His daily physiotherapy sessions also keep tabs on recovery progress as well as offering the best preventative care against the injuries that have most often blighted his career.
Neymar’s injury history shows a particularly high incidence of adductor problems. However, his top-flight physical care has ensured they never kept him off the pitch for more than a month.
As mentioned, Neymar eats a lot and values a high carbohydrate intake to fuel his gruelling training schedule. His two main meals of the day are lunch with his teammates at 12.00pm and dinner at home with his family at 6.00pm.
The star has been known to source a lot of his carbohydrates from traditional Brazilian staples such as rice, beans, and egg. He is known to eat eggs as part of a light breakfast in the morning, a couple of hours before his football training sessions begin at 9.00am.
Neymar has also said in interviews that he supplements his diet with a so-called “magic potion”. This “potion” is now known to be a sort of protein shake that he consumes a couple of times a day. It is clear then that, as well as a high carbohydrate intake and a lot of protein-rich foods, he likes to aim for that little extra as well.
Neymar’s world-class performance ultimately relies on a rigorous and regular training schedule, as much help with injuries as is possible, and a whole lot of fuel to give him the necessary energy. With Neymar, it is all about training, eating, sleeping, and – of course – the beautiful game.
Photo by Amil Delic, CC Licence