Brazilian star Neymar will be huge in Miami during World Cup

Mural of Brazilian soccer star Neymar on corner of SW 1st Ave and 8th street in Miami. P C.M. Guerrero cmguerrero@miamiherald.com

If you have been around the Brickell City Centre in downtown Miami the past few weeks, you have probably seen a gigantic mural of Brazilian soccer superstar Neymar on the corner of SW 8th Street and SW First Avenue.

Mural of Brazilian soccer star Neymar on corner of SW First Avenue and Eighth street in Miami.C.M. Guerrero cmguerrero@miamiherald.com

There is an interesting story behind that 10,000-square-foot colorful piece of art.

C.M. Guerrero cmguerrero@miamiherald.comMural of Brazilian soccer star Neymar on corner of SW First Avenue and Eighth street in Miami. It is the creation of New Orleans artist Brandan Odums, who was commissioned to paint three giant portraits of World Cup stars as part of Bleacher Report’s #LargerThanLife campaign to get American sports fans pumped for the tournament, which opens in Moscow, Russia June 14 and runs through July 15.

Miami was chosen for the Neymar mural because of South Florida’s large Brazilian and South American population and because Neymar loves Miami. In fact, the U.S. final of the 61-nation Neymar 5-on-5 tournament is being held this weekend at the Wynwood Marketplace. The winning team gets to go to Neymar’s hometown of Santos, Brazil, later this summer to meet the Paris Saint Germain star and play in the international finals.

“Painting a portrait is a very intimate experience because you spend a lot of time starting at someone’s face, so I dug deep to find out all I could about each player,” Odums said. “I wanted to understand their personalities and backstories.”

He used the colors of the Brazilian flag — green, yellow, blue — for Neymar’s mural and paid particular attention to the soccer player’s hair.

Fans who take photos of the mural and post it on social media with hashtag #LargerThanLife can win a chance to fly to New York for the June 20 Steve Nash Showdown, a celebrity soccer match between NBA and soccer stars hosted by former NBA great Steve Nash, who also was a talented soccer player.

Neymar Jr.’s Five Global Soccer Tournament is now in its third year and features over 100,000 players from 61 countries, all of whom are vying for the World Championship. In the U.S. alone, hundreds of teams competed this spring to qualify for the U.S. Final in Miami, but only 32 teams remain and will compete on Friday and Saturday, June 8-9 at Wynwood Marketplace.

Spectators in attendance are going to have lots to see and do during the two-day competition. Beyond the gameplay, the free event will also have a speaker series, art, music, and be a great celebration of soccer culture.

Neymar Jr.'s Five Global Soccer Tournament

Noon-6:30 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m.-4:40 p.m. Saturday at Wynwood Marketplace, 2250 NW Second Ave., Miami

2250 NW Second Ave., Miami