– The fact that Neymar chooses me is the biggest thing I have experienced. I could not believe it, says the 19-year-old.
Leon Gillies Mannes’ trick videos made such a big impression on Neymar, that the young boy from Stavanger is now part of an exclusive gang, consisting of seven talents.
The team will participate in the final of “Red Bull Neymar Jr’s Five 2022” in Qatar on May 24, a tournament where a special form of five-a-side football is played.
The tournament was postponed last year due to the pandemic, but now Mannes finally gets to meet his great role model.
– Neymar has always been my favorite player. He has given me so much inspiration, and I am really looking forward to experiencing this.
The other teams in the tournament have won national finals, while Neymar’s teams have been hand-picked from different countries.
– I am nervous. I must honestly admit that. We will play against big football nations such as Brazil, France and Spain, and I will perform ahead of Neymar himself. We can not take it lightly.
In the five-a-side tournament in Qatar, the teams play five against five and have two substitutes. The matches were for ten minutes, and if one team scores, the other team loses a player.
– It’s pretty cool. You will play everyone. The team with the most players left on the field wins, says Mannes.
Must have fun
Ever since he was little, Mannes has wanted to be good at doing tricks with the ball.
– Simply explained, there is a lot in repetition and terping. If you exercise a lot and just have fun with what you do, it’s much easier to get good.
On Monday, the 19-year-old boarded the plane to meet his big idol from Paris Saint-Germain FC.
– I feel a little pressure. We meet teams that have played together for a long time, and it is 40 degrees down there. Fortunately, we get a couple of days to get used to the heat, and get some chemistry together, says Leon Gilles Mannes, who plans to post videos from Qatar along the way on Instagram and TikTok.
In the autumn, the plan is to move to Oslo to continue investing in street football and tricks.
– What Leon will be involved in is huge, says street football enthusiast and professional football tricks, Tobias Brandal Busæt.
After living on tricks for many years, Busæt Oslo street football center started under the corona in 2020, also called “Off-pitch”, where the 19-year-old from Stavanger is also associated.
– Leon has been selected as one of seven in the world – among extremely many – to join Neymar’s team. Street football hits very broadly, says Busæt.
“Street football” includes football-related sports that are not organized in the same way as regular football or futsal (indoor football). It can be tricks, football tennis or various forms of football play – or “loop football” as it is often called.
Depending on sponsors
Since the sport is not very organized, it is up to each player to earn income through social media and sponsors.
– Then it is very cool that Neymar and big brands contribute to promoting talent, says Busæt.
He himself had just returned from a street football tournament in Berlin. There, Off-pitch’s team won the whole thing. The team is thus qualified for the “super final” in Riga on June 8.