A Santos star is born - when a teenage Neymar scored five in an 8-1 thrashing
Ten years have passed since Neymar showed Guarani he had something very special about him by putting five goals past them for Santos.FotMob - about 1 year ago
Collar up. A series of tiny steps. A paradinha – a little stop. The goalkeeper drops to his right. Neymar passes the penalty into the opposite corner.
Just two minutes had passed and Santos were off the mark and en route to an 8-1 thrashing of Guarani in the first leg of a Copa do Brasil last-16 tie.
Neymar and his team-mates rushed to the corner and celebrated by donning caps and pretending to rap in an homage to Santos fan and musician Mano Brown.
Dorival Junior's team would go on to score another seven, and Neymar would finish with a personal best of five.
At that point, it was undeniable that a world-beating talent had emerged at Santos.
April 14, 2010 provided Santos with so many reasons to celebrate.
It marked the club's 98th birthday and legendary figures Pepe, Edu and Clodoaldo were in attendance at the Vila Belmiro to enjoy the occasion.
Left-back Leo wore the number 98 on his shirt, while on-loan Manchester City attacker Robinho sported 200 to reflect the number of times he had put on a Santos jersey for a competitive fixture.
Despite such landmarks there was only one subject of conversation at the final whistle: Neymar.
The birth of a goalscorer
The wiry youth operating from the left wing had only turned 18 two months prior, but 2010 was to be the year Neymar entered the global consciousness.
After scoring 13 goals in his first season with the senior team, he had already surpassed that total when Guarani arrived on the coast of the state of Sao Paulo. He ended the year with 42 in all competitions.
Breaking through alongside mercurial playmaker Ganso and poacher Andre, the trio of promising academy products were dubbed as the third generation of Meninos da Vila – a moniker that was bestowed upon Juary, Pita and Joao Paulo in 1978, then Robinho, Diego and Elano in 2002.
Although Neymar's mid-penalty dummy was soon outlawed, he used it to great effect to open the scoring after Cleber Goiano only managed to stop a trademark surge from deep by dynamic midfielder Arouca with a desperate lunge inside the box.
Neymar may have ended the game with five goals but he could so easily have had more.
His end product was not as fine-tuned as it would go on to become. He dribbled into dead ends and misplaced crosses from the left as Dorival became increasingly frustrated with his team's inability to increase their lead despite dominating possession.
Although their relationship would end in acrimony with an on-field falling out resulting in Neymar being dropped and Dorival getting the sack in response, the player heeded his coach's demands on this occasion. An attempted throughball rebounded back off a defender and Neymar fired it across goal and into the bottom-right corner in the 29th minute.
By dummying Ganso's incisive pass and leaving it for Robinho, Neymar helped Santos extend their lead further two minutes later. His hat-trick was completed when another magnificent Ganso pass was squared to him at the back post by Arouca.
The result was already beyond doubt but Neymar made Santos' task even easier when he dragged the ball back and flicked it behind his standing leg to Robinho, with Cleber's challenge claiming nothing but player for a second yellow card on the stroke of half-time.
No letting up
He may have failed to guide a header home from Wesley's cross within two minutes of the restart, but Neymar beat Fabinho Junior and drew a foul to win a penalty that Marcel slammed in after 56 minutes.
Juliano pushed a blistering effort from Neymar at the end of a sweeping move past the post, only to see Santos manoeuvre the resulting corner to Marquinhos in the middle. His chip into the box was looped beyond the stranded Guarani goalkeeper by the head of Robinho before the hour.
There was one moment of revelry for the Guarani players, though, when Moreno drilled a stunning 25-yard free-kick into the top-right corner in the 73rd minute.
However, there was to be no upstaging Neymar.
He controlled Robinho's low cross from the left expertly and delicately flicked beyond Juliano with a quick second touch.
Neymar then rounded off a formidable attack to cap an incredible individual and collective display. Madson sprinted down the left, sent the ball inside for Robinho, whose first touch rolled straight into the path of Neymar for a low effort inside the near post.
A dejected Juliano said after the match: "I'd never conceded eight before, but Santos have to be congratulated."
The secret was well and truly out.
In the book 'My Story - Conversations with my Father', Neymar's dad said: "It was one of Juninho's best matches. He scored five times! It felt like the good old days, when Pele played for Santos. Except that now it was the Santos of Neymar Jr and his friends."
His form showed no sign of abating and 14,000 people signed a petition for Neymar to be selected for Brazil's 2010 World Cup squad, while Pele, Romario and Ronaldo were among the footballing heavyweights to get behind the idea. Unsurprisingly, Selecao boss Dunga took no notice.
"The lobbying that is done for certain players to get in the national team never made me nervous or frustrated," Dunga said after leaving Neymar, Ganso, Ronaldinho and Adriano out.
Chelsea did not doubt that Neymar was ready for a move to Europe, but their advances in August 2010 were turned down by a player keen on securing legendary status at Santos.
He unquestionably achieved that. O Peixe won the Copa do Brasil and the Campeonato Paulista that year, with two more state championships following before Neymar departed for Barcelona. There was also success in the 2011 Copa Libertadores and the 2012 Recopa Sudamericana.
It was a memorable, decorated spell for Neymar and Santos, and his five-goal haul against Guarani was one of the first moments it all looked truly possible.