Ridiculed for faking and diving during a disappointing 2018 World Cup campaign in Russia, Brazilian forward Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior has admitted to “exaggerated” reactions saying he is still learning to deal with frustration.
In a 90-second video made for his sponsors Gillette and published on social media accounts and Brazilian television, Neymar sought to win back fans who criticised his behaviour.
“Studs on my calf, knee in my back, stamp on my foot,” he said.
“You may 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 St Germain (PSG) striker had hoped the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup would elevate him to a similar status enjoyed by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The two players have shared the FIFA World Player of the Year award over the last decade.
Instead, Neymar bowed out at the quarter-finals stage when Brazil lost to Belgium, as fans focused less on his football and more on the dives, rolls and tears he produced.
The 26-year-old former Santos and FC Barcelona player told fans in his homeland he was working to become a better person and deal with the disappointments football threw at him.
Neymar suffered a serious foot injury in February and returned to action just days before the start of the World Cup,
“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 voiceover 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.”