Real Madrid hero looks unrecognisable as young hopeful posing with idol Neymar when he was at Santos

ONE Real Madrid hero looks unrecognisable as a youngster starting out at Santos.

The kid is posing in a photo alongside childhood hero Neymar during their days at the Brazilian club.

They both are decked out in black Santos polo shirts with an arm wrapped around each other and both stick a thumb up.

Neymar left Santos back in 2013 aged 21 in a controversial switch to Barcelona.

And his future Selecao international team-mate – dubbed the 'next Neymar' – is nine years younger, making him at most 12 at the time of the photo.

He appears a little awestruck to be snapped with Neymar, barely managing a smile.

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Nine years on, he is a Bernabeu hero and cannot stop smiling.

After joining for £40.5million in 2019, he enjoyed arguably one of his greatest moments in the famous white shirt this week.

He already had a Champions League perfect hat-trick aged 18 and scored crucial goals against Inter Milan in 2020 then Chelsea in the previous round.

But it was his two goals in two minutes – in the 90th and 91st minutes – to somehow claw Real Madrid back from the brink of an exit against Manchester City.

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The mystery man is, of course, Rodrygo.

He spent eight years earning his stripes with his boyhood club Santos before that big-money move to Spain, following in the footsteps of Neymar.

But the 21-year-old winger's 16th and 17th Real Madrid goals in appearance No103 for Los Blancos kept their dreams of a 14th European Cup alive.

Riyad Mahrez's superb goal looked to have put City through to back-to-back finals.

But up stepped Rodrygo twice in the closing moments to make it 5-5 on aggregate and force extra-time, where Karim Benzema tucked away the winning penalty to set up another final against Liverpool.


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