Name at birth: Neymar da Silva Santos Junior
Neymar is the agile soccer forward who starred for Brazil at the 2014 World Cup, which also was held in Brazil. He is also a star for FC Barcelona of the Spanish premiere league. A child prodigy in a nation of child prodigies, he made his professional debut for the Brazilian club Santos at age 17, in 2009. He quickly became known for his speed, elusive cutting and prodigious scoring with both feet. In 2013 he joined FC Barcelona of Spain’s La Liga, becoming as famous in Europe as he was in Brazil. Handsome as well as effective, he signed deals with global sponsors ranging from Nike and Volkswagen to Red Bull. By 2014 The Sydney Morning Herald was saying Neymar had “the hairstyle and swagger of a carefree rock star,” and Forbes reported that he would earn $33.6 million that year as the world’s 16th highest-paid athlete. He was clearly Brazil’s premiere star at the 2014 World Cup, wearing the coveted #10 jersey for the national team. However, he was knocked out of the tournament with a fractured vertebrae after taking a knee in the back from Columbian player Juan Zuniga during Brazil's quarterfinal win over Columbia.