After Brazil coach Tite announced that he had decided to end his rotation policy and appoint Neymar as the permanent captain of the most decorated team in football history yesterday, the 26-year-old finally opened up about the World Cup in Russia.
Neymar came into the tournament in June after three months of rehab for an ankle injury. Now he will return to the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, where he made his debut for the Selecao in 2010.
"[I'm coming] back to this great stadium, where I have wonderful memories. Everything began here. I am very happy to be back. Eight years have passed, many good things, some bad and many lessons," Neymar, who feels 'an even greater responsibility' as captain, said at a press conference yesterday.
As it was his first face-to-face with the media since the World Cup, most of the questions surrounded the event. When asked about the 2-1 loss to Belgium in the quarterfinal, Neymar said: "I wouldn't go as far as to say I didn't want to play again but, I didn't want to see a ball, or to see any more football played," the 26-year-old said. "I was in mourning, I was really sad about it, but sadness passes, I have my son, my family, my friends and they don't want to see me moping around. I've got more reason to be happy than sad."
The Paris Saint-Germain player also candidly answered questions regarding his theatrics in Russia. Neymar had reportedly spent a total of 14 minutes through five matches on the floor, including his over-the-top theatrics against Mexico which saw him become the butt of a number of social media jokes.
Neymar said he took the jokes with humour but added that being on the receiving end of fouls was a risk of his style.
"My football is to dribble, to face the opponent. I can't stand in front of the opponent and say, 'My dear, excuse me, I want to score a goal'," Neymar said.
"I have to dribble past him, I have to try to do something and he will not allow me to go past and he will try to foul me. A lot of time I'm faster and lighter than other players and they tackle me, and the referee is there for that," the 26-year-old added.
"People were faster to criticise the one being fouled than the one doing the fouling. I went to the World Cup to play, to beat the opposition, not to get kicked. The criticism of me was exaggerated, but I'm a big boy, I'm used to dealing with this kind of thing.
"I can't be the referee and play, but sometimes I wish I could."