Who is Neymar's sister? Rafaella Santos and the 'curse' of her birthday
Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil star Neymar has had a peculiar habit of being sidelined with injury during the time of his sister Rafaella's birthday.
Fans have been quick to pick up on the curious pattern, with the Brazil international missing matches around this time for the past few years. Rafaella's birthday falls on March 11 and Neymar has been either injured or suspended for games surrounding that date since the 2014-15 season.
It's no secret that the samba star is incredibly close to his sister, with the ex-Barcelona forward even having a tattoo of her face on his arm.
Who is Rafaella Santos?
Rafaella Santos is Neymar's younger sister, who was born on March 11, 1996. Despite her brother being one of the most recognisable faces in the world, Rafaella herself has become somewhat of a style icon with a successful modelling career that has seen her gain over 6 million followers on Instagram.
Rafaella has contributed a lot of her time to the charity Instituto Neymar. The Brazilian created the charity in 2014, which focuses on helping disadvantaged children who live in Praia Grande, Sao Paulo, located close to where the siblings were raised.
When Rafaella was born, her surname was Da Silva Santos, but as soon as she was old enough she legally changed it to Beckran. Brazilian outlet Globo claim the change was to pay homage to England legend David Beckham, whom she idolised since she was a child.
Neymar's sister had previously been in a relationship with Inter forward Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa but the couple reportedly broke up in 2018.
What is the curse of Neymar's sister's birthday?
Neymar's sister's birthday seemingly carries a curse of bad luck for the forward on the pitch. In 2018, the Brazil captain missed a game for the fifth consecutive season around the time of her birthday.
In 2019, Neymar was injured for the majority of the second half of the season, including the whole month of March and in 2020, Neymar was sidelined with a rib injury in February of that year, prompting more jokes about the 'curse', though he remained available for selection.
Once more, in mid-February 2021, Neymar sustained an injury which ruled him out for a minimum of four weeks - meaning his absence would coincide with Rafaella's birthday, again.
During the 2022-23 season, an ankle injury sustained at the end of February ruled Neymar out of a number of games in early March.
Many joke that Neymar is purposefully skipping games around this time to spend time with his sister, with former Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos once making light of the situation.
"I like to play with the best and Neymar is one of them," he said, adding with a laugh: "What we would have to negotiate is his sister's birthday."
In 2015, the then-Barcelona star picked up his fifth booking of the season against Granada on February 28, meaning he was suspended for the match against Rayo Vallecano on March 8. Barca allowed him to travel to Brazil and he returned before their next game on March 14.
The following season, Neymar picked up another suspension, this time against Rayo on March 3. The Brazilian missed the match against Eibar on March 6 and headed back to Brazil once again to celebrate his sister's Disney-themed birthday party. He needed to get permission from Luis Enrique and Barcelona's captain Andres Iniesta, plus his three vice-captains - Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano.
Neymar clearly loves spending time with his family, especially surrounding his sister's birthday, expressing this on Instagram after one of the events.
He wrote: "This photo shows how happy I was yesterday. Watching my sister grow up and reconnecting with friends is priceless. I long for yesterday, what a moment."
How many games has Neymar missed during his sister's birthday?
An injury sustained in February 2023 means that Neymar is set to be unavailable for his club around the time of his sister's birthday for the eighth time in nine seasons.
Of course, March is not the only month Neymar has been laid low with injury. The Brazil star has a long history of differing injury complaints that kept him out of games and impacted his career.