It is undeniable that Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. is one of the best football players in the world, but the bad fame he has created for himself has made him a love or hate character in the world of football.
The bad reputation he has even eclipses his unbelievable skills and outrageous goals with situations that have nothing to do with football.
The documentary – which features the likes of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé, and David Beckham – seeks to explain to the public why Neymar is how he is and to humanize one of the most mediatic football players in the history of the sport – if not the most mediatic football player ever.
Because of the close connection football fans have with football players, it is common to believe you know how a person acts even if you have never spoken to them or seen them past a screen.
This three-part biographical documentary gives us an inner view into the life of the football star, taking us from his humble beginnings playing in Brazil’s favelas all the way to him playing in one the world’s richest clubs in the world after a record-breaking £190 million from Barcelona.
Having an insight into Neymar’s humble beginnings impacts viewers that maybe have never thought how hard it is for a boy from a Brazilian favela to live and, especially, to succeed in any area.
His father, who has always been closely linked to Neymar’s professional life and decisions, also makes an appearance during the documentary to explain his son’s lifestyle.
This and the other one-to-one interviews with his past and current teammates – which include Lionel Messi and Dani Alves amongst others – are probably the best feature of the whole documentary.
For example, having Lionel Messi – who is arguably the best football player in the history of the sport – speak about Neymar’s ability on the pitch is incredible to hear, because surely if the best player ever says you are good, you must be really good.
At the beginning of the documentary, he says: “He’s quick. He’s smart. The take-off power he has, his speed with the ball; he’s unstoppable.”
The documentary does well on showing all aspects of Neymar’s life, like how some of his attitudes off the pitch and the start of his career created this love or hate character in Brazil after his quick rise to fame at 19 – when he played for Santos and won the club’s first Copa Libertadores since 1963, when none other than Pelé played for the Paulista team.
It then follows the journey of Neymar through the 2014 World Cup, especially how he felt when he was injured at the quarterfinals against Colombia – and eventually missed the semi-final, which is the infamous 1-7 defeat Brazil suffered against Germany.
This contrasts in his life are properly used throughout the whole documentary and work in parallel with the love or hate relationship the public has with Neymar to furthermore explain how being a massive footballer does not mean you do not have highs and lows in your life.
One of the misses of the documentary is that they do not go into his controversial signing for PSG in a lot of depth, and this is probably one of the biggest questions people have when thinking about the Brazilian star.
However, the documentary does portray that the confusion around the decision he made carries on to Neymar’s teammates friends and family.
Lionel Messi, current teammate at PSG, says: “I really don’t know the reason for his move. He never told us either.
Neymar da Silva Santos, Neymar’s dad, says: “Neymar never wanted to be better than Messi. It was not about stepping out of his shadow. Actually, Neymar loves Messi. What was our objective? To help the French League get to the next level.”
One of the themes throughout the whole series is the construction of the brand Neymar from the start of his days at Santos to now.
This is quite touched on throughout the documentary, but the necessity to do this (to keep generating money after retirement) is only fully understandable if you appreciate the difficulties Brazilians from the favelas have when growing up.
To someone that does not understand this it could seem that he might just care about the money or even could make the viewer think that maybe the whole documentary is just another way of using Neymar’s image and fame to make money.
Whilst the series is a good watch for someone interested in seeing a different side of Neymar and some stellar interviewees giving their opinion on him, the approach towards the documentary sometimes lacks the depth it needs on the important topics.
Whilst it does cover most of the important events during Neymar’s career, the lack of information on key topics makes these series enjoyable but probably will not change the mind of people that do not like Neymar to begin with.