Neymar’s Al-Hilal Debut Marred by Controversy as Fans Boo the Superstar Legend

Tom Weber

  • Updated:
  • 3 min read

Neymar starred on his Al-Hilal debut in a local derby but his first showing in the Asian giants’ blue wasn’t without controversy.

The Brazilian made his long-awaited Al-Hilal debut on Friday (September 15) as Jorge Jesus’ side put Al-Riyadh to the sword. Al-Hilal, the record champions of Asia, made Neymar the most expensive acquisition in Saudi Pro League history when they shelled out €90 million to release him from his French misery.

After his move from Paris Saint Germain, the 31-year-old, who is still the club’s record signing, claimed that he and fellow summer departure Lionel Messi ‘went through hell’ at PSG, though it still came as something of a shock that the Brazilian made the move to Riyadh.

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A month on from his PSG exit, Neymar featured for the first time for his side off the back of a successful international break that saw him break Pele’s record to become Brazil’s all-time male record goalscorer. Al-Hilal hit local rivals Al-Riyadh for half a dozen in a 6-1 rout, but Neymar was also the protagonist of a controversial incident.

– Neymar

Penalty drama

The Brazilian came on as a second-half substitute and was immediately involved in some eye-catching offensive combinations, even recording an assist.

However, fans were left speechless and infuriated when Al-Hilal were awarded a late penalty. With the outcome of the match already set in stone by that point, everyone expected Neymar to step up and get his maiden goal for his new side. But things didn’t transpire that way.

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Instead, it was club legend Salem Al-Dawsari who took – and converted – the spot kick with boos echoing around the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium. Al-Dawsari got his brace in stoppage time, but Neymar never did manage to get on the scoresheet.

The fact that Al-Hilal fans booed one of their greatest-ever players won’t have gone down well.

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