Brazil star Neymar has revealed that Pele convinced him to reject a move to Chelsea in 2010.
Neymar has been one of the shining lights of the World Cup for Brazil, bagging four goals in his quest to win the Golden Boot, but has experienced a difficult first season with Barcelona.
He joined the Catalan giants for a fee of €57 million (£48 million), but it later emerged Barcelona had actually paid around £71 million to secure his move from Santos following payments to Neymar's father.
However, his career may have taken a whole new path if Neymar had agreed four years ago after the Premier League giants agreed a £25 million deal with his club Santos.
In an extract published by the Daily Mail of his new book 'Neymar: My Story - Conversations With My Father', he says: "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 Jnr 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 scored 15 goals in all competitions for the Blaugrana last season.Reuse content