Niall Smith from Askeaton
TWO WEEKS ago, Barcelona star Neymar Jr welcomed a team of Limerick soccer players to his home town of Praia Grande, Brazil where they competed for the 2017 World Finals of Neymar Jr´s Five, Red Bull’s global five-a-side tournament.
The ‘Whoyaplayin’ team that was captained by Niall Smith from Askeaton.
The Sports and Exercise science student in UL plays junior soccer with Aisling Annacotty.
Joining him was his Annacotty team-mate Gavin Dillon from Abbeyfeale, while also in the team were Kildimo’s Paudie Walsh and David Lynch, who play with Summerville Rovers.
The Limerick stars were joined by UL student Lorcan Feeney from Sligo and Galway duo Jon Mulroy and Eoin Roache.
The ‘Whoyaplayin’ side were drawn in a testing group with Italy, Portugal, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Australia, and Hong Kong.
The seven-man squad battled their way through the penultimate stages of the tournament but lost out on a place in the final round of games.
Over 100,000 players from 53 countries battled for a spot in the World Final, but no one could stop the Romanians who were crowned as the best five-a-side team in the world, after defeating England in the deciding match.
As the Romanian team celebrated their win over England, players were treated to a football spectacle as Neymar Jr and some of his closest friends including Manchester City star Gabriel Jesus and former French national team player Djibril Cissé, took to the pitch to tackle the world champions.