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PokerStars announced earlier today that they have signed international football superstar Neymar Jr. as a Team PokerStars Pro. Neymar Jr. is one of the brightest starts in the sport today, currently playing forward for FC Barcelona and serving as captain for the Brazil national team.

Neymar Jr. is not only an international football superstar but also a social media sensation. He currently has over 18 million followers on Twitter and 51.2 million fans on Facebook. Combine his popularity with a passion for the game of poker, and the signing was a match made in poker heaven.

Neymar Jr. and Investment in Growing the Game Globally

PokerStars has a history of expanding the game of poker into new market. The singing of Neymar Jr. will allow them to continue their expansion into the Spanish and Portuguese markets.

According to Michael Hazel, interim CEO of PokerStars, “Neymar Jr is one of the brightest stars in the sporting world and PokerStars is proud to be associated with him. Together we will grow the popularity of poker and show new audiences the competitive, fun and strategic game of poker.

Working with Neymar Jr. continues PokerStars’ history of investing in mainstream athletes who want to leverage their success in competitive sports to become successful poker players.”

David Baazov, Amaya CEO and Chairman, stressed that Neymar’s signing was an investment in growing poker globally. He stated, “Neymar Jr is a young and extremely charismatic megastar who loves interacting with fans on social media, is comfortable on camera and loves the game of poker.

And as a superstar with one of the world’s most famous football clubs and football nations, his appeal is global. This partnership is a great opportunity to market the game of poker across the globe and attract new fans.”

Neymar Jr. Signing Allows Him to Further His Passion for Poker

The signing of Neymar Jr. by PokerStars is not that surprising considering his love of the game. He can be found on Instragram frequently posting videos and photos of his home games and other poker exploits. He has even named his dog ‘Poker.’

Neymar Jr. spoke on the signing, stating, “Growing up and playing football everyday has made me a competitive person. When I’m not playing football, playing poker and competing against my teammates on the road or in home games with friends is one of my favourite things to do.

To be a successful poker player, you require many of the same skills needed to be a successful footballer – mental strength is important; resilience, patience, composure and focus. I love the challenge, whether it’s on the football pitch or at the poker table,”

Neymar Not Just a Face — He’s Also a Player

Neymar Jr. will play on PokerStars under the username ‘neymar-jr.’ In addition, he will be taking place in a series of “Celebrity Duels” later this year when PokerStars heads back to Barcelona to kick off the 12th season of the European Poker Tour. PokerStars will also work together with Neymar Jr. in his Neymar Jr. Project Institute, an organization that uses sports as a tool for social integration for young people.

Neymar Jr. came over to FC Barcelona in May 2013 after nearly a four year run with Santos where he scored 54 goals in 103 appearances. Since joining FC Barcelona, he has scored 30 goals in 56 appearances.

His international career has been equally as impressive. He is the captain of the Brazil National Team with 43 goals in 62 matches. After just missing out on the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics in London, he led Spain to victory in the 2013 Confederations Cup.

During the 2014 World Cup, he won the Bronze Boot for being the event’s third highest goal scorer. An injury suffered during the quarterfinals knocked him out of the rest of the World Cup and Spain ultimately finished 4th.

James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.