Neymar acknowledged that Brazil’s elimination from the World Cup in a penalty shootout loss to Croatia hurt more than any previous setback in his career and claimed that it “psychologically devastated” him.
In Friday’s game, which ended 1-1 after extra time, the 30-year-old scored a spectacular individual goal to tie Pele’s record-setting total of 77 goals for the Selecao.
However, he was unable to participate in the shootout, which Croatia won 4-2 to advance to the semifinals.
Favorites entering the tournament Brazil’s sixth World Cup victory, their previous coming in 2002, will now have to wait at least another four years.
“I am psychologically destroyed. It is definitely the defeat which has hurt me the most, which left me paralysed for 10 minutes after the match, after which I burst into tears without being able to stop,” Neymar said in an Instagram message.
“It is going to hurt for a very long time, unfortunately,” he added.
Neymar said that he may have played his final international game for Brazil shortly following Brazil’s defeat, but Pele urged him to “keep motivating us.”
On Instagram, the 82-year-old expressed his wish that the star striker would continue to compete and added that goal-scoring records could never compare to the honor of representing Brazil.
“You know, as I do, that no number is greater than the joy of representing our country,” Pele wrote.
“I’m 82 years old, and after all this time, I hope I’ve inspired you in some way to get this far…. Your legacy is far from over.
“Keep inspiring us. I will continue punching the air with happiness with every goal you score, as I have done in every game I’ve seen you on the pitch.”
Pele, who spent earlier this month in the hospital receiving treatment for colon cancer, praised Neymar for matching his record for goals scored.
“I learned that the more time passes, the more our legacy grows,” Pele wrote.
“My record was set almost 50 years ago, and no one has been able to get close to it until now. You made it, my boy. That adds to the greatness of your achievement.”
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