To football fans, stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. are the most important celebrities in the world and what they do off the pitch is almost as important as what they do on it. In an age where social media has allowed us to gain a more intimate insight into the lives of football's top talent, we know almost as much about our sporting heroes as we do our own friends and family.
Whether it's through former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry being snapped by the Welsh Football Trust's Twitter account receiving his UEFA A coaching badge or Cristiano Ronaldo making $300,000 for a single tweet, social media has opened our eyes. One player who has never been shy of showing us his life via social media is Brazil's Neymar Jr.
The 24-year-old is one of Brazil's top young players according to Rivaldo, but when he's not on the pitch banging in goals, he's off playing the piano, bluffing at the poker table and showing off his best trick shots. Thanks to his accounts on Instagram (55 million followers), Twitter (23 million followers) and Facebook (58 million likes), we know a lot more about Neymar Jr. than we would have done a decade ago.
Neymar Jr. The Crowd Pleaser
Like all footballers, Neymar Jr. enjoys showing off his skills, and over the last few years he's appeared in numerous freestyle football videos against some of the best in the business.
After linking up with Red Bull for a five-a-side event, the company pitted Neymar Jr. against AC Milan's Hachim Mastour in a one-on-one juggling battle (see video above). After receiving more than 8.5 million views and 2,100+ comments, the weight of public support went to Mastour, but not before many took the time to praise Neymar's skills.
Naturally, given his competitive spirit, Neymar Jr. hasn't let one loss dampen his spirit for competition. Joining up with another Brazilian legend, Ronaldo Nazario, as part of a new social media challenge called #RaiseIt, Neymar is now performing tricks with everything from balls to tea bags.
Harnessing his popularity online, Neymar Jr. is actually challenging his followers to not only copy but better his tricks by posting a video on the official Raise It website and using the hashtag #RaiseIt. So far the contest has seen members of the public juggle balls in their high heels in an effort to outdo the Brazilian. Not only that, but sports stars like golfer Sergio Garcia are also joining the wave of people now trying to "raise it".
Neymar Jr. The Musician
Some would say that Neymar Jr. is an artist on the pitch and his way with a football puts him on a par with the likes of Picasso, Mozart and Da Vinci. Naturally, people who don't marvel at footballers might beg to differ, but even if they do then Neymar Jr. has a secret weapon up his sleeve: he plays the piano.
Using it as a way to escape the pressure of professional football and relax, Neymar can be seen on YouTube playing everything from classic pieces to modern pop hits like Christina Perri's A Thousand Years. Although he might still be something of a novice compared to great pianists like Chopin or Rachmaninoff, Neymar Jr. is still confident enough to show off his skills to millions of fans around the world.
In fact, beyond his exploits on the piano, Neymar Jr. enjoys singing and can often be seen with a guitar in his hand and a Portuguese lyric or two. However, Neymar Jr. doesn't appear to have a desire to be voted as best singer in the world, while he's clearly on a quest to be the best trick shot specialist on social media. While you might not see him auditioning for The X Factor any time soon, he's certainly one of the more musically accomplished footballers out there.
Neymar Jr. The P0ker Player
When he's not performing tricks in his own Nike-branded boots and playing the piano, Neymar Jr. likes nothing more than a game of p0ker with his friends. After taking up the game a few years ago, Neymar Jr. is now friends with fellow Brazilian and professional p0ker player Felipe Ramos. Under the guidance of Ramos, Neymar Jr. has become a solid player and now uses the game as a competitive outlet away from football.
Thanks to his innate desire to win and his understanding of tactics from the world of football, Neymar Jr. has been able to master many of the skills necessary for success at the felt. From knowing when to attack and when to defend, to using his bets to deceive his opponents (much like changing angles while on a mazy run), Neymar Jr. can now hold his own as his Instagram posts prove.