Brazil star Neymar has finally admitted to going to far with his play-acting at the World Cup in Russia.
The world’s most expensive player was widely lampooned for his histrionics at the global showpiece, which included frequent dives, rolling and arguing with referees.
And after coming in for a lot of criticism, Neymar has now used a sponsor’s advertisement to admit he might have overreacted a bit.
In a video that was broadcast on several Brazilian TV networks, the striker accepted criticism for the first time and promised to pick himself up.
“You may think I exaggerate. And sometimes I do exaggerate. But the truth is I suffer on the pitch,” Neymar said in the sponsored ad.
The 26-year-old striker said his football style is like a boy that “sometimes charms the world, sometimes irritates the whole world.
“I fight to keep that boy alive inside of me, but not on the pitch.
“You may think I fall too much. But the truth is I did not fall. I fell apart,” he said in reference to Brazil’s quarter-finals elimination against Belgium. “That hurts more than any step on an operated ankle.”
Neymar also tried to explain why he did not speak to the press right after the Belgium game, which was also widely criticised in his home country.
“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.
The ad ended with Neymar pledging to be a new man going forward.
“I took long to accept your criticism. I took long to look at myself in the mirror and become a new man,” he said. “I fell, but only who falls can pick himself up.”
Neymar also asked 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.