Many incredibly successful male celebrities did not go to college including Leonardo DiCaprio, Harry Styles, Patrick Dempsey, Johnny Depp, Seth Rogen, Jude Law, Ryan Gosling, Jay-Z, and even Prince Harry. Can we count world-famous footballer Neymar amongst those names?
Neymar Jr. did not attend college. He started playing football at an early age and so academia was never much of a priority to the youngster and his family. While he has no educational achievements to speak of, bar from attending a few years of grade school, he has done extremely well for himself.
His story is an inspirational one, to say the least. Born dirt poor in a dangerous area laden with drug use, high crime levels, and poverty, today he is one of the highest-paid professional footballers in the world. But just how much did his education, or lack thereof, impact him?
Neymar Jr. School Days
Neymar Jr. didn’t go to college, he didn’t even finish high school. His educational tale is an unusual one that many can’t relate to, given that his incredible football talent was easily recognizable at a very young age.
He attended his local grade school, Lupe Picasso, and it was during this time that he began playing for the local high school’s football team. He and his sister would study by candlelight during their school years however, unlike her brother, Rafaella Da Silva Santos went on to graduate from high school.
Neymar Jr. stopped attending school at the age of 11 and focused solely on his football. While most can’t relate to Neymar Jr.’s childhood career trajectory, never mind his parents supporting — if not encouraging — his abandonment of education, this is not unusual in Brazil. 20.50% of 50 million Brazilians aged 14 to 29 years old have not completed any form of basic education due to the pressure to earn an income and disinterest in studying.
Neymar Jr.’s Early Career
Encouraged by his father, former footballer Neymar Santos Sr., Neymar Jr. started his football career off by playing for the youth side of Portuguesa Santista when he was just 11 years old. Later that same year, the family moved to Santos where Neymar began playing for the Santos FC Youth Academy. Neymar Jr.’s earnings from the club became his family’s main source of income and by the time he turned 15 years old, he was the breadwinner of the Da Silva Santos family.
His salary went from 10,000 reais a month to 125,000 reais per month in the year between his fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays. When he was 17 years old he signed his first professional contract and on 7 March 2009, he made his professional debut playing for the Santos first team.
From when he joined the Youth Academy, Neymar Jr. would spend a decade with Santos before signing with Barcelona FC on 27 May 2013 for a five-year deal. He did not stay for the full duration of his contract with the club and made a payment of €222 million to release him from his contract early and he joined Paris Saint-Germain where he is contracted to remain until 2022.
How Neymar Jr. Views Education Today
While education wasn’t part of Neymar Jr.’s journey, he understands the important role education plays in the lives of children. In December 2014, Neymar Jr. established the Instituto Neymar Jr. in his hometown just outside of Sao Paulo.
Instituto Neymar Jr., which is located just a few blocks from where he grew up, is a facility that provides health and education services to the children in the impoverished neighborhood. Before and after school, thousands of local children make use of the computers and sporting facilities and participate in music classes, literacy lessons, mathematics classes, and basic English, Spanish, and French tutoring.
In addition to the extensive educational offering for children, the Instituto Neymar Jr. opens its doors at nighttime as well to allow 262 adults to attend vocational classes. Neymar Jr. says “When classes started at the Institute, I felt fulfilled. It was the necessary kick for me and my family to look at what we built and realize that, in fact, we were making a dream happen.”