By strange coincidence, Brazil’s most popular poker player befriended the most popular soccer player. Many might think that they were simply obliged by a contract with PokerStars, but in fact, Andre Akkari and Neymar Jr. are kindred spirits who have become idols to each other.
Neymar entered the same river twice
Neymar’s relationship with PokerStars has evolved over 6 years. For the first time, a footballer became an ambassador of the room in 2015 – then Pokeroff followed two obvious trends:
- PokerStars parted ways with most Team Pro players and worsened conditions for regular players
- The marketing course has changed to a wide audience
At one point, several world sports stars were under the banner of PokerStars: Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Neymar Jr. and Rafa Nadal. Entertaining videos of “challenges” were filmed with the athletes on social networks, and promotions were built around them (for example, they played a meeting with Ronaldo).
By 2017, the company refused to cooperate with all athletes, and in December 2020 Neymar again became the brand face of PokerStars. In 2021, a couple of promotions have already been held around his person, and he, in turn, periodically conducts poker streams on Twitch.tv.
Unexpected acquaintance of Neymar and Akkari
Today, Andre Akkari can proudly say that he is one of the few that Neymar Jr can call best friend. They met back in 2015, when the footballer was on his first contract.
According to Akkari, then PokerStars offered him to teach Neymar poker – it was important for the company that he knew at least something. There was no better candidate than Andre in the Stars team: he spoke Portuguese, plus he was a fairly experienced teacher.
Akkari traveled to Barcelona to give a 2-hour poker lesson to Neymar. He will never forget that trip:
Something surreal happened there. There was a press conference, Neymar was sitting at the main table with the President of PokerStars, and I was in the back rows of the audience. The conference took place immediately after the Champions League match, where Barcelona beat Bayern 3-0, and Neymar was the author of one of the goals.
Press from all over the world came to listen to him. The first question was asked about football. The second was about poker: “Have you ever played poker? Do you have an idol? ” He replied: “I love poker and often play with friends and teammates. My idol is Andre Akkari “
The whole audience began to look at me, and I thought: “Fuck, this guy knows me!” Neymar noticed me in the hall, then came up to me and hugged me with the words: “Dude, I watched all your videos with the analysis of hands.”
After the conference, Neymar invited me over to play poker. So our friendship began, and he became more than an idol.
The friendship with the poker player influenced Neymar so much that he even plans to start his own poker career when he hangs up his boots.
Not just a “contract” friendship
Andre sincerely considers Neymar to be his best friend and is surprised when someone accuses him of “friendship of convenience.”
Doesn’t a world famous person have the right to have good friends? Is everyone in the world going to be friends with him solely out of selfish interests?
Akkari calls the friendship with Neymar a “great benefit”, and believes that this is mutual.
A couple of years ago there was a football match between the Brazilian national team and Argentina. Two hours before the game, Akkari made a pizza and was going to watch the game on TV, since he could not come to the stadium.
The phone rang – it was facetime Neymar. For a second I thought: damn it, something must have happened to him and he won’t be able to play today. I pick up the phone, and there he is with a smile from ear to ear.
– Healthy Akkarizer
– Hi bro. Something happened?
– Nothing happened, everything is super – answered Neymar smiling
– Ready to play?
– Of course I’m ready. I just called to see how you are.
– I’m fine too. Go play dude, let’s win!
– Okay, let’s go. I just love to call people I like to recharge with positive energy.
By the way, in August 2017, when Neymar had his debut match for PSG, Akkari looked at a friend from the VIP box at the stadium in the company of his father and friends.
Akkari knows the “real Neymar” – simple and sympathetic
Neymar’s account c Instagram one of the most popular on the site – it has 153 million subscribers. He is one of the most talked about football players in recent years – they write anything about him, including negative ones. As Akkari says, people forget the good faster than the bad. Therefore, even despite the fact that Neymar donates a lot of money to charity, you can find comments in the style: “He helps, it’s cool, but he has a lot of women.” or “He falls too often on the field”.
André is offended that this is written about his friend, because he knows him from a completely different side.
He sometimes calls me with the words “let’s help that guy, he needs a refrigerator”, “I’m going to shoot a video for that guy, do you think he will be happy?” – Neymar does it every day, he is such a person and he can afford it.
I have long ceased to see Neymar as the idol of millions. I don’t see him as a player. This is a person who hits and misses, smiles and cries.
When I really met him, it was a great relief. Seeing a person with such influence up close and seeing a good guy … It’s an indescribable feeling.
6 years have passed since the conference that changed the lives of Neymar and Akkari, and they are still idols and fans of each other.