If Chérif So, 22, is a spectacular and explosive footballer, he owes it to his frenzied matches in the streets of Pont-Blanc, his popular working-class neighborhood of Aubervilliers (Seine-Seine-Denis). "You give everything because it is unthinkable to let the neighboring district win …", smiles the relay medium, arrived last summer from Aubervilliers (N 3) to Senlis (R 1).
His winning culture and talent allowed him to realize one of his wildest dreams: to meet Neymar, the Brazilian superstar of PSG. The adventure began with a five-a-side football tournament in Bobigny (Seine-Saint-Denis) last July. A friend of So invites him to join his team, the Toho, made up of players from the sensitive Raguenets district in Saint-Gratien (Val d'Oise). The 9-5 Team won in front of 53 other teams, then dominated the national final in Paris which offered them a ticket to represent France during the Red Bull Neymar Junior Five, at the Neymar Institute in Sao Paulo in August.
The 8,400 m2 complex opened and funded by the PSG striker offers educational and sports activities to more than 2,000 disadvantaged children and adolescents. Eliminated in the round of 16 by the Japanese team, So and his teammates savored the experience intensely. "Neymar has passed several times with his friend Nene (Editor's note: former PSG striker between 2010 and 2013), says Chérif So. He was a few steps from us, mixing with the crowd, clasping hands, signing autographs. In Brazil, it's almost a God, their own Zidane. The children take him as an example and had several songs in his honor. It was an atmosphere of madness! "
"Neymar has a crazy charisma," says Chérif So, the relay runner of Senlis.
But what So does not yet know, at that time, is that he will soon see Neymar again… in private! Like his partners, in September he received an invitation for a photo shoot with the Brazilian in a Paris studio. With the objective of creating the poster for the next edition of the tournament. "We made him a guard of honor," slides So. He was natural and tried to communicate in French, even if it seemed complicated (smile). It was the period when he wanted to leave for FC Barcelona, but he kept things straight, he did not give me the somewhat arrogant image that we sometimes have of him. He had that big smile he has when he scores a goal. We even exchanged a few passes. I expected to meet a skinny little one, but that's not it at all. He has a crazy charisma. "
The Brazilian offered a PSG jersey
The Brazilian star was even generous by offering everyone a PSG jersey and various equipment bearing his name. The Senlisien also remembers the jokes of the Auriverde player. "A girl asked her for a spelling, Neymar had a ball between her feet and put a small bridge over her without her even noticing," says the Ile-de-France. We were laughing, we often watch the video. Even in a photo shoot, he can't help playing soccer. I have been marked for life… ”