Explosive on the field, creative and compassionate off it, Brazil’s reigning footballer, and one of the world’s greatest strikers, Neymar da Silva Santos Junior opens up in the sixth edition of Vogue Man Arabia magazine about becoming an athlete who transcends sport.
Editor-in-Chief Manuel Arnaut believes Neymar’s words and “softer masculinity” will resonate with fans. He explains, “One of the things I love about Neymar Jr is the fact that he is a man who is not shy of showing his emotions. In this moment when we are all going through such tough times together – with Covid-19 pushing us physically further apart – it is more important than ever to be loving, without the fear of being vulnerable. Many say that boys don’t cry, but it is time to leave that nonsense behind us and, as men, connect to our inner sensitivity.”
While Neymar Jr’s exclusive interview and shoot took place before the strict self-isolation and quarantine measures were put into action, due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, his honesty and self-reflection is all the more poignant during the pandemic, and something his fans will be able to relate to more than ever.
This year has not been an easy one for the sports star. Persistent injuries have brought regular spells on the treatment table at his club, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), with the footballer sometimes dubbed accident prone. “There is nothing worse for a professional athlete than an injury,” says Neymar Jr. “I really suffered with injuries these last two seasons and I had many moments of questioning myself.” He adds, “Half of the success of an athlete is the mind. If the mind is good, the game flows more naturally.”
While being injured isn’t uncommon for athletes, for Neymar Jr whose transfer from Barcelona to PSG in 2017 went down in sporting history there’s a lot of added pressure. But the expectations of Parisians are only a fraction of the 28-year-old’s burden: he also holds the happiness of more than 200 million Brazilians at his feet, as the country’s national sporting idol – something he divulges on further in his exclusive interview.
From physical to mental pain, the Brazilian also speaks about the tragic passing of fellow sportsman Kobe Bryant. “His death affected me a lot, because our lives had much in common,” Neymar Jr explains. “I met Kobe personally and the times he came to Paris… When you meet the person behind the athlete, it creates a different relationship and with Kobe, it was very special. Sports and society lost a great guy.”
In his photo shoot, shot in Paris by photographer Alan Gelati and styled by Ilaria Niccolini, Neymar Jr – sporting a fresh pink hairdo – isn’t afraid to be over-the-top when it comes to style. Whether it’s a palm-print shirt from Dolce & Gabbana or a bright pink suit from Alexander McQueen, the louder the better for the style icon. He says, “I have become more evolved because of the courage I gained to be a little bolder with the clothes I wear.”
Also in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue, Vogue Man Arabia shines a light on the regional, homegrown labels, including Talal Hizami and 2d2c2m, who are moving away from what is traditionally expected from them: serious doses of bling and exaggerated luxury just because that’s how the world perceives Arabia. The season’s trends are presented with a unique twist to help you stand out from the crowd, and in grooming, we reveal the key products you need to be stealing from your better-half’s cabinet. In cinema we enter a new golden age, with a fresh wave of Egyptian actors from Rami Malek to Ramy Youssef and Mena Massoud continuing to shatter Hollywood stereotypes, and in sport some Middle East-based adventurers truly inspire against the odds. We’ve also got you covered for 360-degree entertainment, enlightenment, and education in our self-isolation SOS guide.
We’re all in this together. Stay home. Stay strong, and let our latest edition of Vogue Man Arabia inspire you and keep you company. The issue is available in all supermarkets (bagged with the April issue of Vogue Arabia).