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Neymar learnt pro football in 30 mins

Brazilian’s first Santos FC coach ‘Lima’ reveals start of PSG star’s rise to glory.

Antônio Lima Dos Santos was room-mates with legend Pelé during his playing days for Brazil, however his relationship with the club Santos goes even deeper.

Part of Brazil’s 1966 World Cup team, Lima (as he is also known) enjoyed a successful playing career with Santos before going on to coach there including helping to launch current idol Neymar Jr on the road to glory.

Here is an interview with the 76-year-old:

What stood out about Neymar when you first met him?

I was impressed. I had my doubts, though, as I thought he could have problems because he played very little field football. He played much more indoor football, and there is a big difference between them. The first time I saw him on the field, I had a conversation with him and we talked. I remember talking to him in the locker room. I told him he shouldn’t believe this was going to be his only chance. We know that 80% of the time you play indoor football and not professional football. So it’s going to take a while to adapt from one place to the other. Well, it took him half an hour to adapt and, after that, he was playing very relaxed – playing in his usual position and so on. I remember that a month later he went to São Paulo to take part in a tournament. He started to draw so much attention, that when the people went to see a Santos match, they asked if he was going to play or not. And you know what, he was good but he was just a 13-year-old child.

How was his attitude to training back then?

First of all, he always wanted all the balls for him. I talked a lot about this with him. The first thing he said when he got to the field was: where’s the ball? And the physical trainer also insisted in calling his attention. Starting with this habit could result in an injury. So we had a special routine for him because, if he could, he would train the whole time with the ball.

How did Neymar handle losing important matches?

He couldn’t get used to it. He barely recognised it could happen. I was speaking a lot with him. I said, ‘Only three things can happen: you win, you lose or you tie. The rest is not going to happen.’

If you were still coaching him now, how would you improve his game?

I’d work today to improve his performance. I would train him today to pass the ball faster, because all his rivals know how to play against him. They barely give him the chance to play with the ball. When he stops the ball he has them with him and they don’t allow him to make any progress, they don’t permit him to develop his game.

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