Roni remembers Neymar Jr's anxiety for the first goal scored 10 years ago
A week after his debut as a professional player, Neymar Jr marked the first goal of his career. The symbolic 10 year anniversary is Friday (the 15th). In addition to the protagonist, other characters participated in this historical moment of worldwide football. Among them, the experienced striker Roni, responsible for the assistance on the goal. Roni also advised and "protected" the young 17 year old man from the intimidations of the defenders on the field.
Retired and living in Goiânia, the former 41-year-old player fondly remembers March 15th, 2009 and the newcoming boy´s anxiety about playing on the main team. Santos FC faced Mogi Mirim for the Campeonato Paulista on a Saturday night at the Pacaembu Stadium.
"We won the game 3-0. His goal [Neymar Jr] was scored a ball stretched to the left wing corner of the field. I crossed the ball with my left foot and Neymar headed it in with a dive. Then he made the gesture eternalized by Pele, the punch in the air and ran to thank me, because he knew it was an important goal in his life. Every striker wants to score a goal right when he is promoted to the professional team and take that weight off their shoulder", says Roni.
Also check out other special testimonials about the player´s 10-year career anniversary on the site: www.neymarjr10.com
The punch in the air was not only a gesture honoring Pelé, but also to his grandfather, a Santos Futebol Clube´s fan, who had died months before Neymar Jr´s debut as a pro player.
"Ney celebrating with a punch in the air was not just to honor Pele, but also to honor my father, his grandfather. My father loved Santos FC and Pelé. Neymar kept everything I said and commented. He knows his grandfather was with him at all the games, but my father was not with us six months ago. He had died. The goal was a tribute to him, Pelé and to all of us Santos´ fan", recalls Neymar da Silva Santos, the athlete´s father.
The year of 2009 was a year of renewal for Santos FC. The team , head coached by Vagner Mancini, was the Paulista Championship runner-up that year, losing the final match to Ronaldo´s Corinthians, one of Neymar Jr's main idols. Just as Neymar Jr, the main team was packed with newly promoted athletes from the minor league teams. It was then a job for the more experienced players to advice and protect.
"Ever since he arrived here as a little kid, I noticed that he had something different. I played several games with Neymar and tried to guide him in some way, like his moves on the field. I remember a game against Corinthians that he came off the bench and the Corinthians players wanted to intimidate him and I protected him. We had a special affection for him. I always saw him with his father and family and always told him to keep the family close because during the difficult times they would be the only ones to continue on his side", recalls Roni.
Responsible for the assist of Neymar Jr's first goal in one of the 20 career goals scored with his head during his career, the former player says he still cheers for the player. "I'm very happy to have taken part in his early career story. His own father has a very great affection for me and every time he meets me he treats me very well. I will always cheer for Neymar and he will achieve all his goals", he concludes.