• Premier League

Neymar: Pele persuaded me to snub Chelsea

ESPN staff
June 28, 2014
Neymar moved to Barcelona last summer © Getty Images

Neymar has revealed both Pele and the president of Santos helped persuade him to stay in Brazil and not sign a "huge" deal with Chelsea in 2010.

Writing in his autobiography, which is currently being serialised in the Daily Mail, Neymar insisted the decision to stay at Santos and not move to Stamford Bridge had been the "right" one.

Neymar wrote: "It was August 23, 2010. My father and I had a meeting with president Luis Álvaro at the Santos headquarters, inside the Vila Belmiro. Chelsea had made a huge transfer bid. In the middle of our conversation, the president turned off the lights and pointed at an empty chair.

"'This is the chair of the great national sports hero. Since Ayrton Senna's death, this chair is vacant. If Neymar Jr stays in Santos and refuses Chelsea's proposal, he will give his first step to sit in this chair.'

"That made us think. That decision would be a turning point in my life. Even Pele called me. Can you imagine how important I felt? The King of Football called and asked me to stay.

"He reminded me of his entire career with Santos, his five world titles with the national team and the club, and all the recognition he received. It wasn't easy but it was the right decision for us. We did the right thing for our family, friends and my career."

Neymar was bought by Barcelona last summer for a reported deal of around £50 million, although the transfer brought the club much controversy and legal issues.

The forward has starred in front of his home fans this World Cup and is current joint top-scorer with four goals. Brazil play Chile in the first knockout phase on Saturday.

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