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The first meeting of the Brazilian star with the Argentine legend is one that he remembers fondly
Neymar has opened up for an unforgettable early encounter 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 striker scored two goals Wednesday night as he led his team to a 3-1 victory over Manchester United in the Champions League.
While Neymar has been a household name for over a decade, the Brazilian star crossed paths with Maradona when he was just beginning to show his promise for Santos.
One of their first exchanges was one that Neymar will never forget with Maradona going out of his way to make a child feel welcome and even making sure the duo took a photo together.
“I had few contacts with Maradona, but I will never forget the one from when I was 12 or 13 years old,” Neymar said. Eleven sports.
“I was just starting in Santos and I went to see an exhibition match between Brazil and Argentina, a game between former players.
“As the bus for the Brazilian team was already full, I couldn’t go with them, so they put me on the bus from Argentina. There were two boys highlighted there, because they were sitting in the first seats: they were [Alejandro] Mancuso and Maradona.
“So they put me next to them and they treated me very well. So well that when we got to the stadium, they took me to the Argentina dressing room and onto the field.
“I even have a photo with Maradona, from when I was little. He called me to take that picture. I will never forget his gesture.
“On the field he was an icon for everyone, of course. For me too, but I have always respected him as an athlete and as a footballer.
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 in Barcelona and the PSG forward has stated that they need to meet again next season with Messi’s expiring contract at Camp Nou.
“What I want the most is to enjoy playing with him again,” said Neymar ESPN. “Sure, next year we have to.”