‘Neymar was like a father to me’ - former PSG star opens up about Brazilian mentor

Neymar and Xavi Simmons | Imago

‘Neymar was like a father to me’ - former PSG star opens up about Brazilian mentor

Ayoola Kelechi 17:44 - 30.09.2023

Neymar apparently served as a father figure to a former Barcelona and PSG colleague who has showered the Brazilian with praise

RB Leipzig’s Dutch sensation Xavi Simons has opened up about his relationship with former teammate Neymar, whom he says acted as a father figure to him while the pair were colleagues. 

Simons has high praise for Neymar

Simons is a highly-rated midfielder who was part of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy before heading to PSG as a 16-year-old in search of more assurances of first-team opportunities. 

Although those opportunities rarely came, Simons has fought tooth and nail to make a name for himself outside PSG, with a superb loan spell with PSV Eindhoven earned him a move to RB Leipzig this summer. 

Xavi Simons playing for Barcelona U-15 | Imago
Xavi Simons playing for Barcelona U-15 | Imago

Despite struggling to impose himself at PSG or Barcelona, the 20-year-old is still grateful to have played at both clubs, especially as it ensured he crossed paths with Neymar.

Simons grateful for ‘father-figure’ Neymar

Simons was speaking in an interview with Sky Sports in Germany when he was asked about his role models in football, and he replied, “He [Neymar] already knew me from Barcelona and was like a father to me. I will be eternally grateful to him for that. It was a big dream to play with my idol and he’s still an important person for me.”

Simons noted his gratitude to Neymar and explained why the Brazilian’s actions moved him so much, saying, “It’s not easy to come into a big team as a young player, with your idols and great stars and Neymar has taken on this role as a father. I am very grateful to him for that.”

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar at PSG | Photo Credit: Instagram

Since parting in Paris, both players have taken their careers in different directions, with Simons taking up an important role at German title challengers RB Leipzig, scoring three goals and assisting four more in the Bundesliga, while Neymar sealed a lucrative summer move to join Saudi Arabian giants Al Hilal. 

Related content