Neymar didn’t win many friends during the 2018 World Cup but he’s not sad about that.
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Instead he’s sad that Brazil, one of the pre-tournament favorites, didn’t go all the way to the final as they aimed to win a sixth World Cup title.
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Speaking after Brazil landed back home to a positive response from the public, Neymar had the following to say about their exit at the World Cup quarterfinal stage following a 2-1 defeat to Belgium.
“I can say that it is the saddest moment of my career, the pain is very great because we knew we could get there, we knew we had the conditions to go further, to make history but it was not this time,” Neymar said.
“Difficult to find the strength to want to play football again, but I’m sure God will give me enough strength to face anything, so I’ll never stop thanking God, even in defeat … because I know that your way is much better than mine. Very happy to be part of this team, I am proud of all, interrupted our dream but they did not get out of our head and neither of our hearts.”
Neymar, 26, angered many during the tournament in Russia with his theatrical falls, especially in games against Costa Rica, Mexico and Belgium.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward battled back to full-fitness to play in this tournament after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his right foot back in February, with some doubting he would even play in the tournament.
We must not forget that as Neymar, at times, looked pretty rusty as Brazil’s talisman struggled to reach top form, scoring just twice over five games. Some of his diving and complaints were over the top, but there’s no doubting he was targeted by opponents, as he always is, and was on the receiving end of some tough tackles and skulduggery.
What happens next for Neymar is intriguing as he’s clearly not overly happy playing for PSG and links to Real Madrid continue.
Neymar will have better tournaments for Brazil and will come back stronger, but you can’t help but feel that if the reaction he received for overreacting to tackles during this World Cup isn’t a wake-up call for him to tone things down, nothing will be.