Rio de Janeiro: Brazil’s star forward Neymar has declared himself a “new man”, saying he has accepted criticism of his behaviour during the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The 26-year-old was widely accused of play-acting and diving during the tournament, drawing sharp criticism from fans and inspiring countless Internet memes.
In a video published by one of his sponsors late on Sunday, the Brazilian admitted he exaggerated some of his reactions to being fouled, reports Xinhua news agency.
“You may think I exaggerate. And sometimes I do exaggerate. But the truth is I suffer on the pitch,” Neymar said in the advertisement.
“You may think I fall too much. But the truth is I did not fall. I fell apart. I took a long time to accept your criticism. I took a long time to look at myself in the mirror and become a new man.”
The Brazilian talisman scored just twice in five matches in a Brazil side that was eliminated following a 1-2 defeat to Belgium in the quarter-finals.
His diving, rolling around and constant arguing with the referees were not the only causes for criticism during the competition.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward was accused of seeking attention by crying before television cameras after Brazil’s 2-0 victory over Costa Rica in their second group match.
And he was widely lambasted in the Brazilian press for refusing to give interviews during and after the tournament.
“When I leave without giving interviews it is not because I only want the spoils of victory. 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 recognized that his brand of football “sometimes charms the world, sometimes irritates the whole world”.
At the end of the advertisement, he called on Brazilians to support him as he attempts to regain the respect of the football world.
“You can keep casting stones. Or throw these stones away and help me stand. When I stand, all of Brazil stands with me,” he added.