Neymar: Pele persuaded me not to move to Chelsea
The 22-year-old later moved to Barcelona from Santos but claims the Brazilian legend convinced him to spurn Chelsea's advances in 2010
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.
Read more: Brazil v Chile preview
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.
Neymar (second left) alongside his father Neymar snr (left) and Santos president Luis Álvaro (centre) in August 2010 after snubbing Chelsea's offer
"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.
Latest in Sport
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 There is literally not a single woman in this iPhone 6 queue
- 4 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
- 5 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God