Forward Neymar reached superstar status at FC Barcelona, where he played alongside one of the best attackers in the history of football, Lionel Messi.
It was not always easy for the Brazilian, however, and he has now revealed what the five-time Ballon d’Or once told him at half-time during a match he was struggling in.
Neymar joined the Catalan giants from Santos in Brazil as a promising 21-year-old, whose potential was clear for everyone to see.
Despite battling at times during his first season at the Camp Nou, the Selecao man formed part of the most deadly attack in world football alongside Messi and former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.
The Blaugrana made things look easy out on the field for the most part, but Neymar has now opened up about his early struggles at the club.
The 26-year-old, who joined Paris Saint-Germain in August last year, recently shared a moment he had with Messi, whose words of encouragement during a half-time break still stick with him today.
“I remember a game with Barcelona. I was nearly crying because things weren’t coming off for me,” he said, according to Sport.
“It was half-time and Messi came up to me and told me that I only had to be the same player I had always been, to be myself.
“‘You have to be yourself,’ he told me. ‘You can’t be intimidated to be playing alongside me or (Andres) Iniesta,’ he insisted.
“To see the humility of a guy that has won it all, that is the best in the world, asking you to be yourself and show your best, without any kind of vanity, was something I loved.
“I tell that story all the time to my family, to my friends. He helped me a lot professionally, of course, but also personally.
“To play with stars like Messi, Iniesta and Xavi make you a little shy. But after speaking with Messi I came out of myself, showed what I had, relaxed and played with confidence.
“Since that day, I have had a huge friendship with Messi.”
Neymar scored 105 goals and created a further 80 strikes in 186 matches at Barca, where he won eight trophies, including the UEFA Champions League title.