Player name: Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior
Clubs: Santos, FC Barcelona, Paris Saint Germain
Height: 5 ft 9 in
Neymar is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a winger for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazil national team. He is considered a versatile player, being able to play as either a central striker, second striker, winger or occasionally as an attacking midfielder. A prolific goalscorer and renowned playmaker, he is regarded as one of the very best players in the world. Neymar has scored at least 100 goals for three different clubs, making him one of three players to achieve this. He came into prominence at Santos, where he made his professional debut aged 17. He helped the club win two successive Campeonato Paulista championships, a Copa do Brasil, and the 2011 Copa Libertadores; the latter being Santos' first since 1963. Neymar was twice named the South American Footballer of the Year, in 2011 and 2012, and soon relocated to Europe to join FC Barcelona. As part of Barcelona's attacking trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez, dubbed MSN, he won the infamous continental treble of La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League. He then attained a domestic double in the 2015–16 season. Motivated to be a talisman at club level, Neymar transferred to PSG in 2017 in a move worth €222 million, making him the most expensive player of all time. In France, he won four league titles, among other honours, and was voted Ligue 1 Player of the Year in his debut season. Notably, he helped PSG attain a domestic quadruple in the 2019–20 season, and led the club to its first ever UEFA Champions League Final.
Here we have managed to acquire a very special pair of NJR's match worn & double hand signed Puma King Platinum football boots. As you can imagine, with Neymar being one of the world's very best, this pair are like gold dust to come by - however we've got out hands on them here, and they are truly incredible! In this post we'll delve into every detail of this pair, comparing them to the retail model of the Puma King Platinum in which the general public were able to purchase in retail stores, as there are a lot of differences between them...
Neymar's shock switch to become the new face of Puma came with a reported massive £23million-per-year deal - the largest individual sponsorship contract in the history sport, for the most expensive player in the history of the sport! He decided to end his close partnership with Nike in the summer of 2020, quitting the American brand after they backed his rise, in terms of sponsorship, from the age of 13. The PSG forward had two years left on his 11-year deal with Nike - but opted to break the contract to join Puma after being offered the staggering sum to become the poster boy for their football division. This record breaking deal trumps Messi's £18million-per-year deal with Adidas, & CR7's £15million-per-year deal with Nike.
Puma launched the "Return of the King" campaign as their official announcement strategy of the Neymar signing, rejuvinating the King football boot silo, which was made famous by being worn by legends of the game in their prime such as fellow native Pelé, Cruyff, Maradona, Eusabio and Matthaus.
The pair we have here are Neymar's very first 'signature' boot with Puma, since the first model of Puma King he wore at the start of the 'Return of the King' campaign was not a specific NJR release. This version incorporated his unique custom logo on the medial side of each boot, as well as using his logo to complete the famous Puma Formstriple logo to the lateral side - this model was known as the 'Puma King Platinum x Neymar', and it was only available in limited numbers to the public, sold out rapidly worldwide. The custom logo in which Puma actually designed for him, can be seen throughout the Puma x Neymar range, they're certainly making good use of their deal with him! However, Neymar did not wear the standard version on pitch in which Puma released to the general public, he received bespoke made pairs to his exact requirements, you may have already noticed some differences on the pair we have acquired in the picture above.
With 74 goals in 119 matches for Brazil since debuting at age 18, Neymar is the second highest goalscorer for the national team, trailing Pelé by just 3 goals- it's just a matter of time before he becomes the all time top scorer. At his youth stage for Brazil, he was a key player in the victory at the 2011 South American Youth Championship, where he finished as leading goalscorer, and also attained a silver medal in men's football at the 2012 Summer Olympics. The following year, he won the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, winning the Golden Ball. His participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2015 Copa América was cut short by injury and a suspension respectively, before captaining Brazil to their first Olympic gold medal in men's football at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Having renounced the captaincy, he featured at the 2018 World Cup, and after missing the 2019 Copa América through injury, helped Brazil to a runner-up finish at the 2021 tournament. He'll for sure lead the Brazil national team at the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Qatar this year. On 13 October 2020, he scored a hat-trick wearing this exact pair of boots in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Peru, which Brazil won 4–2. He reached his 64th international goal and surpassed Ronaldo as the nation's second highest goalscorer of all time.
Whilst Neymar's pairs were actually made in the same country of manufacture as the retail pairs (unlike most of Adidas & Nike player's boots), they do however feature a differing internal size label to what you'd find on a standard pair. Since around 2018, Puma stopped using their old form of size labels, where on the player versions, they stated "SAMPLE". The updated style, which is what you see above, states "Athlete Exclusive" underneath the barcode preventing them from being sold on the commercial market, along with some codes, the 4 number code is the date of manufacture "0920" being September 2020. Now, typically, retail boots are made months in advance of them being sold in stores, sometimes around 6 months, however this pair of Neymar's were made in the same month in which he wore them, which indicates that they're made and then sent direct to the player's club, as opposed to having to go through all sorts of quality control and other procedures etc as the retail versions have to. Because these were produced for a different reason, there's no need for Puma to put them through those processes. As we can also see on NJR's size label, his pair were a size UK7.75 (US8.75) which is obviously something that the general public cannot get on any mass produced footwear, this sort of sizing seems to only be available to the very elite sponsored athletes.
Neymar finished third for the FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2015 and 2017, has been awarded the FIFA Puskás Award, has been named in the FIFA FIFPro World11 twice, the UEFA Team of the Year twice, and the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season three times. Off the pitch, he ranks among the world's most prominent sportsmen. SportsPro named him the most marketable athlete in the world in 2012 and 2013, and ESPN cited him as the world's fourth-most famous athlete in 2016. In 2017, Time included him in its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2018, France Football ranked Neymar the world's third highest-paid footballer. The following year, Forbes ranked him the world's third highest-paid athlete, dropping a spot to fourth in 2020
The soleplate on NJR's actual pair is totally different to that of the retail release. The outsole on the commercial version was actually just taken straight from the Puma ONE model, which incorperated a mix of bladed and conical studs, combined with a contoured midfoot strengthened area and an external heel counter. NJR's version features a much flatter shape throughout the entirety of the plate, with no contoured section in the midfoot, and a selection of 12 studs, all of which are conical in shape - not a single bladed one here. The custom soleplate features a black base, and the studs themselves are transparent, there's also no external heel counter at all - his actual pair instead have an internal heel counter construction. The retail outsole was finished in a lovely chrome design, not entirely sure why they didn't try to add this to Neymar's actual pairs - however on feet from a distance they don't look too different, so not much necessity for disguising in that sense as the chrome was a wearable finish anyway. The soleplate Neymar used is actually very similar to what he was using on his Nike pairs prior to his Puma switch, with him often opting for the AG-Pro plate on his Mercurial Vapor 12 & 13's, and the Tiempo Legend IV plate on his Hypervenom Phantom's. The conical layout is very well suited to the pitches that are used at the elite level, hence why so many Nike players opt for the AG-Pro & Legend IV FG plates regardless of the model. Interestingly, the plate above was actually made available to the public on the Puma King Pro 21 model, which was released around a year after Neymar was using it on his customs Platinums - of course by that time Neymar had switched into the Puma Future model.
Neymar scored his first two goals of the 2020-21 season in a 6–1 win against Angers on 2 October. He entered the list of the top ten goal scorers in PSG history by doing so, scoring his 72nd for the club, which put him level with Raí. On 28 October, Neymar suffered an adductor injury in a match against İstanbul Başakşehir, leaving the pitch after 26 minutes of play. He made his return to action as a substitute in a 3–2 loss against Monaco on 20 November, and scored his first goal after recovering from his injury in a 1–0 win against RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League on 24 November. On 28 November, Neymar scored his 50th goal in Ligue 1, converting a penalty in PSG's 2–2 draw against Bordeaux. This made him the fastest player in the club's history to reach 50 league goals, doing so in only 58 matches. Four days later, on 2 December, he scored two goals in a 3–1 Champions League victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford. In PSG's final group match, Neymar scored his third career Champions League hat-trick against İstanbul Başakşehir, as his side won 5–1 and qualified for the knockout stage as group winners. He became the first player in European Cup and Champions League history to score 20 goals for two different clubs, scoring 21 goals for Barcelona in 40 games, and 20 for PSG in 25 games - all of the above done whilst wearing this pair! Cool, right?
Inside Neymar's custom version, the construction is totally different to the retail version, with there being a different insole board which runs throughout each boot from heel to toe, specially shaped for Neymar's foot measurements and seems to be much thicker and reinforced than the standard equivalent insole board. Very common to see this among pro players custom boots across all brands. As we can see here, Puma have also added a carbon fibre plate inside each boot to the midfoot area, with the main aim being to further strengthen that area of the boot. Now, the shape of these plates is so so unique and interesting! We have seen carbon plates be added by Nike into their elite players boots for many years now, however none of those have ever had any similarity in terms of shape with this version of what Puma have made for Neymar - incidentally, he actually had this same shape of custom carbon plate added to his final few models of Nike Mercurial Vapor 13 prior to his switch to Puma, so perhaps this was suggested to his boot makers by the PSG club doctor or physio. It would certainly have some specific benefit to Neymar with them being in this shape, for it to be carried over from not only a different model, but a different brand entirely. The lateral side stretches right up to the forefoot board, yet the medial side is much shorter and also placed more to the centre part of the insole board, where as the lateral side is almost touching the edge.
This pair were originally on display in a sports museum in Brazil, with the boots having been signed by Neymar and then subsequently donated to them for display along with some other of his match worn items including match shirts, and so on. As we can see above, they had them on display in a lovely glass case in the centre of the exhibit, along with a passage about the boots beneath on the stand.
As we can see above, another angle showing the absence of an external heel counter. You may also notice that the shape is rather different too, it seems Neymar has slightly wider heels than what you'd usually find, so Puma have factored this in when hand making his pair here. We've also seen this on other pairs of his match worn boots that we've had in here at BCBootsUK, such as his 2015 Nike Hypervenom Phantoms. The heel tab area is also wider and thicker padded for additional comfort, as well as the interior of the heels featuring a custom lining material. The retail version had a sort of synthetic leather liner, which may look nice but isn't all that great for performance nor comfort. Neymar's pair feature a soft black fabric liner, with additional padding throughout the heel area up to the midfoot.
Neymar primarily plays as either a central striker, second striker, winger or occasionally as an attacking midfielder, and has been described as "a true phenomenon". Highlighting both his prolific scoring and playmaking abilities, he stands as PSG's sixth-highest-goalscorer of all time and seventh-highest-assister of all time. He often plays as a left sided forward for both club and country in the team's 4–3–3 formation, drifting infield, due to his energetic pace and playmaking skills; this position allows him to shoot with his stronger foot, or create chances for teammates. Neymar's dribbling skills, tricks and playmaking ability are reminiscent of compatriot Ronaldinho. His main traits are his creativity, vision, passing, finishing, dribbling, feints, touch, and technique, being described as both "electric" and "explosive". The media have often drawn comparisons between Neymar and Brazilian legend Pelé, as Neymar possesses similar attributes and also like Pelé came from the Santos Youth Academy and turned heads with his skill. Neymar has said that Pelé is his "role model" but also saying: "I don't like to make a comparison with Pelé".
Here we get a better look at that custom heel construction and lining. The personalisation is rather subtle, with the player's squad number for both PSG & the Brazil national team "10" featuring on the lateral side of the heel area on both boots, with a custom design with there being a gap in the 0. The medial side of the right boot features "Dream Chaser", along with the left boot having "Tudo Passa..." which doesn't translate directly into English, however as a saying/phrase it means "everything good or bad will always be left behind!".
What do you think of this pair from Neymar? Certainly very different to the version Puma had him advertise! Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.