Now more famous for their exploits on the football pitch, Neymar and Hulk talk about their futsal experience when they were young and how the game benefitted their careers.
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UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 starts tomorrow in Antwerp, and the interest goes beyond the continental borders of the competition. Brazil are the reigning world champions in the sport and many of their star footballers also played the sport when young. Two such are Hulk and Neymar, who learned some futsal skills from the sport's most famed name, Falcão, and they speak to UEFA.com about the benefits of the discipline.
Neymar, FC Barcelona forward
Futsal helps a lot because you need to think quickly. It's a more dynamic game and today in Europe there's not much space so you need to think quicker and futsal has helped me a lot with that. Futsal is one of my passions. I always loved to play, but unfortunately I had to stop to progress on the football pitch.
Hulk, FC Zenit forward
I played some futsal when I was five or seven years old, I liked it a lot. Anyone who plays futsal a lot will end up showing what they have learned on the football pitch too. There are some tactical moves in futsal which are much more difficult to break out from, but when you have some experience in futsal it ends up being easier.
I think the fans love futsal because of the smaller pitch, you're closer to goal although the goal is a bit smaller, but I think that it's the number of goals that makes the fans enthusiastic.
Despite it being a pitch for ten players, four each side plus the goalkeepers on both teams, there is a lot of movement. You run a lot. You might not think so, but it's like the movement we have during a football match, although I think there's even a bit more movement in futsal than in football on a grass pitch.
[Playing futsal I learned] control of the ball, the way you dominate the ball. In futsal the ball always comes faster, it has more speed, and you have to have more agility to be able to immediately break out of a play or marking, so that helps a lot on the [football] pitch.