As the samba-loving soccer superstar's career hits pause, we look back at some of his best musical moments
Soon after news came that Neymar was knocked out of the World Cup following a knee to the back in the July 4 match against Colombia, Brazilian singer Michel Teló sent a Tweet of support and prayer for the soccer star’s recovery.
— Michel Teló (@micheltelo) July 5, 2014
Teló’s reaction was no surprise, considering that Neymar was largely responsible for the artist’s rise from regional Brazilian country-pop singer to global star. Teló’s 2011 song “Ai Se Eu Te Pego” reached No. 1 in 15 countries and became the first No. 1 in Portuguese on Billboard’s Latin Pop Airplay chart after a video of Neymar dancing to the song in the locker room went viral.
Neymar later performed the song together with Teló on Brazilian TV.
By adopting “Ai Se Eu Te Pego” and other songs, the 22-year-old forward, along with fellow YouTube-friendly young international players, has brought soccer and music’s long relationship into the digital age, proving the impact soccer can have on music marketing in a world in which sports, like music, has gone global like never before.
Legends Pelé and Maradona have been the subject of a catalogue of tribute songs, and Maradona has even tried his hand at singing in the past. With his sexy moves, tats and frosted teen-crush hair, Neymar has gone a step beyond by joyfully lending his celebrity to music artists, mouthing their words in videos and leading stadium crowds in dancing the choreography for his latest post-goal picks.
After Teló, Neymar helped score a hit for another young Brazilian singer, Gusttavo Lima. His 2011 "Balada (Tchê Tcherere Tchê Tchê)" hit No. 1 in a handful of European countries, and lives on in a Lay’s World Cup spot starring Messi.
More recently, Neymar helped push “Pais do Futebol,” a track by rapper MC Guimê, as a home country challenger to Pitbull’s official World Cup song “We Are One.” Guimê’s video, featuring Neymar, has attracted more than 32 million views on Youtube.
The Brazilian star can also be seen swaying and singing along with Messi and other players in the video for Shakira’s World Cup season triumph “La, La,La (Brazil 2014).” (Colombian Shakira, however, did not join the shower of Tweets showing sympathy for her partner Gerard Pique’s Brazilian FC Barcelona teammate after he was injured in the match in which Brazil beat her native country.)
Neymar’s last musical appearance was at the Brazil-Mexico World Cup match, where he broke down in tears while singing the national anthem with his team.
Now Brazil is crying for Neymar, who’s out of the crucial game against Germany with a fractured vertebra, while soccer fans — and music artists – wait for the moment he’ll be ready to samba onto the field again.