Neymar has said Brazil’s World Cup quarterfinal exit at the hands of Belgium “is the saddest moment of my career.”
The forward, who scored two goals and set up another in five games for Brazil at the tournament, made headlines for play-acting rather than for match-winning performances.
“I can say that this is the saddest moment of my career, it is incredibly painful because we knew we could get there, we knew we had conditions to go further, to make history,” Neymar wrote on Instagram.
“But it was not this time. It’s hard to find the strength to play soccer again, but I’m sure God will give me strength enough to face anything, so I’ll never stop thanking God, even in defeat … because I know that your way is much better than mine I’m very happy to be part of this team, I’m proud of all, interrupted our dream but they didn’t get it out of our head and neither of our hearts.”
In a further post on Instagram stories, Neymar added: “I am thankful to all of those who sent us messages and who supported us.”
Brazil national team coordinator Edu Gaspar showed sympathy with the Selecao’s star man because of the extra attention he receives.
“I always said, from the moment I started my relation with Neymar, that is not easy to be Neymar,” Gaspar said. “It’s hard to be Neymar. He’s a boy that… Not a boy, sorry, an athlete who is not a boy anymore and who deserves all of my complements because of what he lived before the World Cup.
“People forget about how long he was out through injury, what he made to be at this tournament, the time he had to play the World Cup in a healthy form He’s a player that was three months without playing, he had only three weeks of training camp.
“If he smiles, he’s criticised and praised. If he cries, he’s criticised and praised. If he doesn’t talk to the press, he’s criticised and praised. That’s why is not easy to be Neymar.
“He was the athlete who made less requests for us. Neymar complied with all of our norms, he didn’t asked many things as told by the press, as his father be in a different hotel, as the athlete also in a different hotel from the others. Sometimes, it comes to pity because what this boy suffers it’s not easy.”