Neymar admits at times he over-reacts to fouls

File photo of Brazilian forward Neymar, who has been ridiculed all over the world for his "exaggerated" reactions, faking injuries and excessive diving.
File photo of Brazilian forward Neymar, who has been ridiculed all over the world for his "exaggerated" reactions, faking injuries and excessive diving. PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO • Ridiculed all over the world for faking injuries and diving during a disappointing World Cup campaign in Russia, Brazilian forward Neymar has admitted to "exaggerated" reactions and said that he is still learning to deal with frustration.

In a 90-second video made for his sponsor Gillette and published on social media accounts and Brazilian television, the 26-year-old sought to win back fans who criticised his behaviour.

"Studs on my calf, knee in my back, stamp on my foot," he said.

"You might think I exaggerate and sometimes I really do exaggerate. But the fact is that I suffer on the field.

"There's still a child inside me. Sometimes he enchants the world and sometimes he irritates the world."

The Paris Saint-Germain striker, who is not in the squad playing in the International Champions Cup in Singapore, had hoped the Russia World Cup would elevate him to a similar status enjoyed by thirty-somethings Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

These two players have shared the Fifa World Player of the Year award over the last decade.

 
 
 

Instead, Neymar bowed out in the quarter-finals when Brazil lost 2-1 to Belgium, as fans focused less on his football and more on the dives, rolls and tears he produced throughout the tournament.

The former Santos and Barcelona player, who suffered a serious foot injury in February and returned to action just days before the start of the World Cup, told fans in his homeland that he was working to become a better person and deal with the disappointments football threw at him.

"When I seem rude, it's not because I am a spoilt child, it's because I haven't learnt to deal with frustration," he said in a voice-over to the black-and-white video.

"It's taken me time to accept your criticism, it's taken me time to look into the mirror and transform myself into a new man.

"But I am here, with a new face and an open heart. I fell down but only those that fell down can get up.

"You can keep throwing stones or throw those stones away and help me stand. When I stand on my own two feet, all of Brazil stands with me."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2018, with the headline 'Neymar admits at times he over-reacts to fouls'. Print Edition | Subscribe