DOHA, Qatar — While one Neymar was about to make his return at the World Cup, another was going home after a short — and tumultuous — stint in Qatar.
The real Neymar has recovered from an ankle injury and was expected to play Monday against South Korea in the round of 16, while his lookalike was leaving the country after causing some havoc with his public appearances.
Eigon Oliveira, who calls himself “Ney’s Lookalike,” was busy during his time in Qatar, where he attracted a lot of attention making appearances impersonating the Neymar.
It was hard to spot the difference between the lookalike and the real Neymar when Oliveira put on Brazil’s training uniform and wore similar sunglasses, hat and beard as the Brazil star.
He also appears to have the same tattoos as Neymar, and was usually accompanied by a friend who dressed as a member of staff of the Brazilian soccer confederation. Some of his friends also often acted as his security guards.
A Puma store in Doha had to temporarily close when Oliveira visited and attracted hundreds of fans. He had to be taken to the back of the store until things calmed down.
There was also trouble when the lookalike made it to one of Brazil’s World Cup games, as fans clamored to get autographs and a photo. Some of the Brazil players on the field before the match looked up to see what was going on. Security eventually escorted the lookalike away.
Before one of the matches, Oliveira managed to make it all the way to the field as some security guards apparently thought he actually was Neymar.
Oliveira has 1 million followers on Instagram and is close to that same mark on TikTok. He records most of his stunts and posts them on his social media accounts, where they quickly go viral.
Being Neymar’s double has become a job for Oliveira. He has traveled around the world imitating the player, including to France, where Neymar plays for Paris Saint-Germain. He makes money out of his appearances and by acting as the player’s double in commercial shoots.
He told Brazilian media it all started while he worked as a waiter at a restaurant in Brazil and people started to talk about his resemblance with the real Neymar, which led to him getting hired by an agency.
He has met Neymar a few times during some of his commercial shoots, and said that the player was fine with him acting as his lookalike.
“I never imagined this moment,” he said in a recent post. “I’m blessed to have gotten this far with this job. I’m very thankful and I’m a fan of this guy who welcomes what I do with open arms. He changed my life in a gigantic way, giving me millions of possibilities and opportunities, and allowing me to go places and meet people that I would have never imagined going or meeting.”
Oliveira said he plans to be back in Qatar for the semifinals if Brazil advances, so there could be more chaos caused by the Neymar lookalike before the World Cup is over.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports