Neymar and nutmegs go together like Brazil and the sport its most famous son baptised ‘The Beautiful Game’. Pele, himself responsible for breathtakingly passing the ball through Eusebio’s legs en route to a wonder goal in the 1962 Intercontinental Cup, once referred to his heir apparent as “o rei das canetas” (the nutmeg king), and the former has incessantly vindicated that moniker.
Neymar ‘pannas’ have, indeed, left innumerable opponents red-faced over the years – Fluminense’s Diguinho, Mexico’s Hiram Mier and Atletico Madrid’s Tiago can all attest to that. In fact, the Brazilian forward not only has a passion for 'pannas', but whatever superlative skill makes him happy, as he recently explained to FIFA.com: “I like many tricks, but with the goal that won the Puskas award, I'm not sure how I did some of that skill."
But, hey, what goes around, comes around!
At a recent Castrol Freestyle event, trickster extraordinaire Sean Garnier was busy dropping jaws with some implausible ‘pannas’ when he was given a challenge: nutmeg the nutmeg king himself!
Neymar knew what Garnier was attempting, but the Frenchman extraordinarily bamboozled the Brazilian by balancing both feet on top of the ball, before rapidly elastic dribbling it round the back of him and putting it through his legs! Check out the above video – you have to see it to believe it. Neymar immediately gasped in amazement, before sportingly giving Garnier a big high-five and a hug.
He is very fast and talented with the ball. He has huge talent for doing tricks.
“Absolutely, yes,” the Barcelona wizard replied when asked if he now knew how it felt to be humiliated by a nutmeg. “I really like putting the ball between defenders legs. He is very fast and talented with the ball. He has huge talent for doing tricks.”
Garnier, the two-time World Freestyle Football champion who honed his genius through Panna Street Football – a two-on-two games where the objective is to nutmeg your opponents – said: “It's a great feeling. I enjoyed tricking one of the world’s most technical footballers.
“It also felt like an achievement in the sense that it was a way to show more of football freestyle and street soccer to the world. These communities are really strong and deserve to get more attention.
“Everyone watches football to support their team, but we all want to see a show, some amazing moves and tricks. It makes people dream. Neymar is one of the players that does this.”
Neymar finished tenth on the Castol Index – the definitive system for rating player performance – at last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup. With the Castrol Index set to oversee its fourth tournament at Brazil 2014, the 22-year-old will be hoping to succeed South Africa 2010 winner Sergio Ramos of Spain.