‘I’ll never forget his gesture’ – Neymar opens up on meeting Maradona as a teenager

Neymar has opened up on an unforgettable early meeting with Diego Maradona as he paid tribute to the 1986 World Cup winner, who passed away from a heart attack last week. 

The Paris Saint-Germain attacker scored twice on Wednesday night as he guided his side to a 3-1 win over Manchester United in the Champions League. 

While Neymar has been household name for over a decade now, the Brazilian star crossed paths with Maradona when he was only just starting to show his promise for Santos. 

One of their earlier exchanges was one Neymar will never forget with Maradona going out of his way to make a young boy feel welcome and even ensuring the duo got a photo together. 

“I had just a few contacts with Maradona, but I’ll never forget the one when I was 12 or 13 years old,” Neymar told Eleven Sports.

“I was just starting at Santos and I went to watch a show match between Brazil and Argentina – a game between former players.

“As the Brazilian team’s bus were already full, I couldn’t go with them, so they put me onto Argentina’s bus. There were two guys highlighted in there, because they were sitting in the first seats: they were [Alejandro] Mancuso and Maradona.

“So they put me alongside them and treated me very well. So well that, when we arrived in the stadium, they took me to Argentina’s locker room and onto the field.

“I even have a photo with Maradona, from when I was a little. He called me over to take that picture. I’ll never forget his gesture.

“On the pitch he was an icon for everybody, sure. For me as well, but I’ve always respected him as an athlete and as a footballer. I will never forget that.” 

Neymar is no stranger to talented Argentine footballers and expressed his desire to play with Lionel Messi again on Wednesday night. 

The duo spent four seasons together at Barcelona and the PSG forward has declared they need to be reunited next season with Messi’s contract at Camp Nou due to expire. 

“What I want the most is to enjoy playing with him again,” Neymar told ESPN. “For sure, next year we have to do it.”

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