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Neymar Jnr: The Embodiment of the Modern Football Player

Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics


Neymar is one of the best players in the world currently. The Brazilian and PSG forward player is incredibly talented with great agility and dribbling skills. His talent is what made him the most valued player at some point in his career. His journey to the top of the footballing food chain has been documented in Neymar: The Perfect Chaos. The documentary dives into the back stages of one of the most famous and valued football players in the world who has been as controversial as he has been successful. Neymar’s rise to stardom and the top of the footballing world began in the Brazilian club Santos where he gathered some limelight. He became a football prodigy before Barcelona came calling. He represented Barcelona between 2013 and 2017 before moving to PSG at a world record fee of 222 million euros that were stipulated as a termination clause in his contract.

Neymar’s rise to the top of the world of football was large as a result of personal motivation and the desire to succeed. This construct of motivation helps to maintain, direct and channel behavior over an extended amount of time. It impacts the ability of an athlete to focus and become excellent in a particular sport. It also helps them in adopting and maintaining a training routine. According to his father, Neymar was as young as 2 years when he realized kicking a ball gave him joy. It did not take him long in life to discover his passion and love for football. He used to play before and after school and in his admission, nothing else seemed to matter. Neymar grew up playing indoor futsal and, on the street. He developed tricks, techniques and speed that became the bedrock of his career. By the time he was transitioning to football at the age of 11, it was clear he was only interested in football. In his early years, he had a special training routine because he would train the whole time. This motivation to succeed was the key ingredient to the making of the footballing superstar, Neymar.

The construct of mental toughness is also a key success factor in sports. Mental toughness helps one to maintain determination, focus and perceive control while under intense pressure. The main focus of studies on mental toughness was the conceptual understanding of the concepts of hardiness and resilience. Mentally tough sportspeople are highly competitive, committed, can cope effectively with stressful competitive environments. They also have a high sense of confidence amid setbacks and persist despite facing challenging situations. Performing at the highest level in football is normally associated with a lot of mental pressure. Despite his success, Neymar has been a victim of mental pressure and his performances have often crumbled when put under intense pressure (Rodrigues, 2022). He is unable to perform and makes a lot of poor decisions when under pressure.

Perfectionism is another construct in sports psychology that is applicable in the case of Neymar. Perfectionism is associated with striving for flawless and setting exceedingly high standards for performance. The construct is also accompanied by tendencies for overly critical evaluations. Competing at the highest levels in football requires a high level of performance every time a player shows up on the field (Donachie & Hill, 2020). Perfectionism can be differentiated into perfectionistic concerns and perfectionistic strivings. Neymar’s perfectionism is oriented to perfectionist striving. He has a self-oriented striving for perfection and holds himself to very high standards. He is possessed and acknowledges where he is going wrong and where he can improve. Throughout his career, he has focused on competing with himself through continuous improvement.

Sports psychology is an important element as it helps explain the drivers for the success of sports personalities. The case of Neymar is one of the most inspiring sports stories and it depicts what can be achieved when a person has set their mind to attain a certain objective. Neymar’s story is an illustration that one needs to combine discipline with hard work and dedication to achieve success. While many psychological constructs can be drawn from the story of Neymar, the most outstanding ones are personal motivation, mental toughness and perfectionism. Neymar has risen from playing football in the streets of Brazil to being the most valuable player in football. He also portrays the significance of mental toughness and a player can be negatively effective in the absence of mental toughness.


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Donachie, T., & Hill, A. (2020). Helping soccer players help themselves: Effectiveness of a psychoeducational book in reducing perfectionism. Journal Of Applied Sport Psychology, 1-21.

Monteiro, D., Teixeira, D., Travassos, B., Duarte-Mendes, P., Moutão, J., Machado, S., & Cid, L. (2018). Perceived Effort in Football Athletes: The Role of Achievement Goal Theory and Self-Determination Theory. Frontiers In Psychology, 9.

Rodrigues, D. (2022). Neymar: The Perfect Chaos [DVD]. Brazil; Campfire; Makemake.

Stamatis, A., Grandjean, P., Morgan, G., Padgett, R., Cowden, R., & Koutakis, P. (2020). Developing and training mental toughness in sport: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies and pre-test and post-test experiments. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 6(1), e000747.

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