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23 Apr, 2020 18:45

'It’s a real longing for football!' Neymar admits to experiencing 'anxiety' during enforced absence due to COVID-19

'It’s a real longing for football!' Neymar admits to experiencing 'anxiety' during enforced absence due to COVID-19

He may be one of the world's best paid athletes, but Neymar's bank balance doesn't make him immune to the current uncertainty we are experiencing through the global coronavirus pandemic.

Ligue 1 has been suspended since mid-March due to the COVID-19 crisis which has ground most major sports across the world to a halt. And, despite the first inroads being made globally to calculate when sport may potentially return, Neymar says that not knowing when he will play football again has affected his mental health.

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The 28-year-old Paris Saint-Germain star has been put through his paces by a daily workout regimen under the supervision of his longtime personal trainer Ricardo Rosa. But, with no definitive end in sight to the suspension of the sport in France, Neymar says that he has begun experiencing anxiety.

"Not knowing when we will play again is causing anxiety. I miss playing, competing, the atmosphere of the club and my PSG team mates. It’s a real longing for football!" he told his official website.

"I'm sure that the fans want to see everyone back on the pitch, the earlier the better. I hope the decision is made as quickly as possible."

France's coronavirus cases appear to have peaked at the end of March and have since been diminishing - but there appears to still be a long way to go to get the virus under control, with more than 1,800 new cases reported across the country on Wednesday.

For his part, Rosa says that the primary function of his role is to keep Neymar in peak physical condition but also to ensure he is not adding to the stresses that the player is currently experiencing.

"You need to understand the environment that this player lives in,” he said.

"I try to relieve this by controlling the training load and nutrition. Everything is done so his performance improves and evolves all the time.

"I try to do vary the methods, volume and intensity of work, dividing them between general exercises and specific training with the ball."

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And, as Rosa suggests, the hard work has paid off throughout Neymar's fruitful career.

"In all those years of working with him, what I would highlight, in the physical part, is that he’s a privileged athlete, always at or above the average for football players," he said.

"Besides being an agile and quick athlete, he has a lot of stamina. It’s very difficult to find an athlete with these three skills together, but in Neymar’s case he’s outside the curve because he has all three."