Neymar hails role of Santos President Luis Álvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro and Pelé in decision to snub Chelsea in 2010Brazil's Neymar attends a training session in Belo Horizonte
Neymar has hailed the role of Santos President Luis Álvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro and Pelé in his decision to snub a move to Chelsea in 2010.
Writing in his autobiography, the 22 year-old claims Santos had received a “huge” bid from Chelsea, but he was swayed from pursuing a transfer to the Premier League outfit.
“It was August 23, 2010,” he wrote, as reported by the Daily Mail. “My father and I had a meeting with president Luis Álvaro at the Santos headquarters, inside the Vila Belmiro.
“Chelsea had made a huge transfer bid. In the middle of our conversation, the president turned off the lights and pointed at an empty chair. ‘This is the chair of the great national sports hero. Since Ayrton Senna’s death, this chair is vacant. If Neymar Jnr stays in Santos and refuses Chelsea’s proposal, he will give his first step to sit in this chair.’
“That made us think. That decision would be a turning point in my life. Even Pelé called me. Can you imagine how important I felt? The King of Football called and asked me to stay.
“He reminded me of his entire career with Santos, his five world titles with the national team and the club, and all the recognition he received. It wasn’t easy but it was the right decision for us. We did the right thing for our family, friends and my career.”
Neymar’s decision to reject Chelsea’s advances has seemingly been justified. After that offer, he won the Campeonato Paulista twice, the 2011 Copa Libertadores and 2012 Recopa Sudamericana, as well as numerous individual accolades whilst at Santos. During that time, he was also a regular with the Seleção, for whom he has scored 35 goals in 52 matches.
Neymar eventually left Peixe to join Barcelona in May 2013. His first season in Spain has been mixed, but he has gone on to play a starring role in Brazil’s first three 2014 FIFA World Cup matches.