For football fans, it’s hard to imagine the hyper-talented, twinkle-toed Brazilian wearing anything but Nikes (and occasionally Jordan Brand). For years, he’s been one of the faces behind the brand’s all-conquering performance football lineup, gaming the iconic Mercurial and dazzling crowded stadiums with blurred Swooshes on his feet.
Neymar’s time with Nike could be coming to an end, but he’s managed to create plenty of memories along the journey, both on the pitch and off it. Here’s a look back at some of his best sneaker moments with Team Swoosh.
Stepovers to Crossovers
Despite all his iconic moments on the pitch, Neymar’s most prominent sneaker achievement is inspired by the hardwood. In 2016, the Brazilian became the first-ever footballer to feature on a Jordan Brand performance product.
The NJR x Jordan Brand Hypervenom football boot took inspiration from the iconic Air Jordan 5, Neymar’s favourite basketball silhouette. It made use of a modernised version of the 5’s shark-tooth pattern, and also featured a ‘23’ and Jumpman branding.
Additionally, the Jordan Brand honoured Neymar with his own Jordan 5 Low colourway.
‘Michael Jordan set the standard for greatness,’ said Neymar in regards to the release. ‘He’s an incredible competitor and a champion. I’ve always admired him, so to collaborate with him and have his icon on my boots means a great deal to me.’
With Paris Saint-Germain now sporting Jordan Brand kits, we suspect Neymar’s breakthrough collaboration laid the foundation for the now famed football/basketball crossover.
Locked on the Shox
Growing up Sao Paulo, Neymar recalls the debut of the Shox R4 in 2000. The mind-bending silhouette was a game changer in the sneaker game, but it also catalysed a young football starlet’s fascination with footwear.
Harking back to those childhood memories, Nike bestowed Neymar with two signature Shox R4 colourways in 2019, which were every bit as dazzling as his footwork. One colourway paid homage to the metallic detailing and reflective elements of the debut shoe, while the other took on watermelon hues inspired by the buzzing markets around Sao Paulo.
Taking it to the Max
In 2017, Neymar took part in Nike’s Air Max Day festivities as one of headliners of the ‘Wear Your Airs’ and ‘Kiss My Airs’ campaigns. It was his first venture into the world of Air Max, and undoubtedly paved the way for his latest big-bubbled exploits.
In what could possibly be his last hoorah with Nike, Neymar released two special renditions of the Air Max 2090 in 2020. The collaboration is typically eye-catching, again alluding to his storied upbringing. The right lateral features ‘Sao Vincente’ and ‘Praia Grande’, which nod to his adopted home. Meanwhile, the medial side displays ‘Jardim Gloria’ in honour his football academy in Brazil, as ‘Nautica III’ shines the light on childhood neighbourhood.
It may be futuristic look into past, but we’re not entirely sure what the footwear future holds for Neymar. Either way, he can look back at his time with the Swoosh with fond memories, having built his own unique sneaker legacy.