Brazilian professional soccer player, Neymar Jr. is one of the most naturally talented players in the world today. Because of this, many people want to understand everything he says. I recently realized I didn’t know if Neymar can speak in English. So I decided to find out. Here’s what I discovered.
Neymar can speak English, but he is not fluent in the language. Despite never having lived in an English speaking nation, he has spent time learning English and uses English to communicate with some of the other players on his team.
English isn’t the only language Neymar speaks. As you read through this article, I’ll show you how much English he can speak, and when he started learning. Then we’ll see if he speaks any other languages.
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How Much English Neymar Speaks
I have admired Neymar’s skill and ability with a soccer ball for years. He seems to have the ability and confidence to do almost anything on the soccer field.
Just take a look at this highlight reel of some of his best moments to see what I mean.
When it comes to understanding Neymar’s ability to speak English, we have to go back to the start of his professional career.
As far back as 2011, Neymar acknowledged that he was learning English. [source]
In an interview with AS, while talking about a potential move into European soccer, he candidly admitted that he was learning the language.
At that point, he was still playing soccer in South America for Brazilian club Santos FC. But he was already admired by other soccer clubs around the world, and he had his sights set on his future career in a European nation. Specifically, he wanted to play in the European based Champion’s League competition.
He knew that if he was to make it in another nation, he would have to be able to communicate in the language of that nation. And one of the potential moves ahead of him would be to a country where he needed to be able to speak English.
As it turned out, Neymar’s next move wasn’t to an English speaking country but to a Spanish speaking one.
Speaking English in Spain
In 2013 Neymar left South America and joined Barcelona in Spain.
At Barcelona, speaking English wasn’t Neymar’s top priority. He was in a Spanish speaking nation, surrounded by people who mostly spoke Spanish. (We’ll look at how well Neymar speaks Spanish in a moment.)
But he was still taking opportunities to speak English occasionally during this time.
In the video below, you will see moments from his time at Barcelona, where he communicated in English.
However, he wasn’t fluent in English.
In fact, in 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo told the story about when he had to act as a translator for Neymar. [source]
At the 2016 Ballon d’Or ceremony, Neymar, Ronaldo, and Messi were all waiting to see who would be voted the best soccer player in the world for 2015.
During the gala and even when the players were up on the stage, Ronaldo said that he was translating everything spoken in English so Neymar and Messi could understand!
Although these three players are arguably the best soccer players globally, they still take the time to help each other out!
If you’re interested in how many languages Ronaldo speaks other than English, this article I wrote will give you the answer. And to find out if Messi has learned to speak any English since the 2016 Ballon d’Or ceremony, have a look at this article I wrote.
Although this is a great story of Ronaldo helping out Neymar with English, it also shows that, at that point, Neymar’s English wasn’t perfect.
Since then, Neymar’s English seems to have improved.
Speaking English in France
In 2017 Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris. He joined the soccer club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for a world-record transfer fee of €222 million. [source]
Again, this wasn’t an English speaking nation, but this time he had a compelling reason to communicate in English. The reason was to communicate with his friend Kylian Mbappe who also plays for the same team.
In 2018 Kylian Mbappe told ESPN that before he (Mbappe) had even joined PSG, Neymar was trying to persuade him to join. Although, he said this was a little challenging because neither of them spoke great English.
However, Mbappe then went on to say that his English has now improved, and they regularly communicate with each other in English.
This doesn’t mean that either of their English speaking skills are perfect, but it does reflect the fact that Neymar does speak English well enough to communicate effectively.
Does Neymar Understand English?
As you may have experienced at times in your life, there are times where someone who struggles to speak a language can actually understand it quite well.
This seems to be the case with Neymar.
Have a look at this video below when Will Smith pays Neymar a surprise video. In it, you will see how Neymar understands what Will Smith is saying but mostly speaks using a different language.
When you see conversations like this, you realize that someone’s ability to understand a language often comes quicker than their ability to speak it.
This seems to be the case with Neymar. Neymar understands English reasonably well but isn’t able to speak English fluently.
This video also highlights the fact that Neymar speaks other languages than just English.
Let’s look at the other languages Neymar speaks.
Other languages Neymar speaks
Neymar speaks a total of three languages:
- and English
Having been born in Portuguese speaking Brazil, Neymar speaks Portuguese fluently.
This is clear in many interviews you can find where he is communicating in Portuguese. Even in the video above with Will Smith, the primary language Neymar speaks is Portuguese.
Having been born and raised speaking this language, it is no surprise that he is most comfortable communicating Portuguese.
Neymar also speaks Spanish.
Even before moving to Spain to play for the Spanish soccer club Barcelona, Neymar understood Spanish. In the same interview from 2011 that he said he was learning English, Neymar stated that he already understood Spanish.
Kylian Mbappe also confirmed this in the 2018 interview with ESPN when he said that he and Neymar initially communicated in Spanish before Mbappe had learned enough English.
Mbappe stated that Neymar already knew Spanish from his time at Barcelona.
This is no great surprise as linguistically, Portuguese and Spanish are very similar languages. If you know one, then it’s not to difficult to understand the other. Neymar’s time in Spain would only have increased his ability to speak and understand Spanish.
Interestingly, Neymar has said he also speaks a few words of Catalan. [source]
Catalan is the local language of the area surrounding Barcelona in Spain. It is very popular in this region, and Messi has said he understands Catalan as his son regularly speaks the language. Find out more about that in my article here.
One language that you may have noticed is not on this list is – French.
This is interesting considering that Neymar has played for a French team since 2017!
Can Neymar Speak French?
Neymar does not speak French. Despite Neymar’s ability to speak English, Portuguese, and Spanish, he has been resistant to talk in French.
Even during a game in early 2020, when he had been in France for nearly 3 years, Neymar made it clear that he had no intention of speaking French. Even after the referee asked him to. He responded in Portuguese to the referee’s request making his intentions clear. [source]
There is no apparent reason why Neymar doesn’t want to speak French. Some people think it is disrespectful that he hasn’t learned to speak the nation’s language, while others believe that it really doesn’t matter.
If you look at his stats for his time at PSG, then there is undoubtedly a strong argument that his lack of French has not inhibited his ability to dominate on the soccer field.
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