Neymar used a sponsor’s ad to admit he exaggerated some of his reactions after being fouled during the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The video, published on Sunday and broadcast on several Brazilian TV networks, featured the striker accepting criticism for the first time and promising to pick himself up.
The striker scored two goals in the tournament and was not too disappointing until his team got knocked out by Belgium in the quarter-finals, but fans and players have spoken much more about his theatrics on the pitch, which included dives, rolling and frequent arguing with referees.
“You may think I exaggerate and sometimes I do exaggerate, but the truth is I suffer on the pitch,” Neymar said in the ad sponsored by Gillette.
In the ad he tried to explain why he did not speak after the Belgium game, which fostered even more criticism of his behavior at home.
“When I leave without giving interviews it is not because I only want the victory laurels. It is because I still haven’t learned to disappoint you. When I look impolite, it is not because I am a spoiled kid. It is because I have not learned how to be frustrated,” he said.
Neymar said his style is akin to a boy’s that “sometime charms the world, sometimes irritates the whole world.”
“I fight to keep that boy alive inside of me, but not on the pitch,” he said.
“You may think I fall too much, but the truth is I did not fall. I fell apart,” Neymar said, in a reference to Brazil’s quarter-final elimination against Belgium. “That hurts more than any step on an operated ankle.”
The ad ends with Neymar’s pledge to be a new man less than a month after Brazil were knocked out of the World Cup.
“I took long to accept your criticism. I took long to look at myself in the mirror and become a new man,” Neymar said. “I fell, but only who falls can pick himself up.”
Neymar ends the ad by asking fans to make a choice.
“You can keep casting stones or throw these stones away and help me stand. When I stand, all of Brazil stands with me,” he said.
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