Neymar: Copinha hero Neilton can be a star
His four goals in the final two rounds of the Copa São Paulo helped Santos to victory, but Neilton's Friday was made even better as he earned the praise of his idol, Neymar.
Neilton, 18, scored a semi-final hat-trick (below) to down Palmeiras, before adding a goal and an assist in the final as Santos won the prestigious youth tournament for just the second time in their history.
Watching on from the sidelines, Santos' idol Neymar could not help but be impressed by the performance of Neilton—who has modelled his image on his elder.
"Neilton is a great kid. He has everything to be a big star in football," Neymar told Globo Esporte. "I'm happy because he's a good guy and a brilliant player. He has a lot of talent. I hope he can continue to play beautiful football like this."
Neilton had started the tournament among Santos' substitutes but was handed his chance in the starting lineup after a series of good showings off the bench.
Eventually, he was handed his chance as a starter in the semi-final and his coach's faith paid dividends as he netted a superb hat-trick, before adding a goal and an assist in the final.
When told of his idol's comments, Neilton admitted he was just glad to shake off his reputation of being just another Neymar wannabe.
"I'm glad you are now seeing me from a different perspective," he told reporters. "But, Neymar has no comparison.
"He is the inspiration for all the youth players, not just at Santos, but in the whole of Brazil. Anyone who has followed his career knows how he is."
Coach Claudinei Oliveira believes that Neilton will succeed in reaching the top, but warned that he must consistently produce if he is to do so.
He said: "Neymar is unmatched today. Neilton must seek his own space and consistency, just as Neymar has. Always making goals, always giving assists. It is no use to play two or three games then stop producing. But, he has a good head and he's disciplined."
Source: Globo Esporte