This year's World Cup was a roller-coaster ride for Neymar.
On the one hand, he was not only the best player for Brazil throughout the tournament, but also one of the best players, period. On the other hand, an injury sustained in the quarterfinal against Colombia meant he couldn't play against Germany and had to watch his team get absolutely smoked, losing 7-1.
On Thursday, Neymar spoke about all of it.
He started by talking about joining with his teammates for the third-place game and remaining united as a squad, despite the horrid defeat to Germany. Jack Lang of the Mirror passes along some of those comments:
He also talked about the game getting away from Brazil, and how something like that could happen:
Neymar than admitted that, between the loss and the injury, he was having a pretty rough go of it:
He then focused more on his injury, per Juan Arango of World Soccer Talk:
And he wasn't terribly pleased with Colombia's Juan Zuniga, the man who injured him by jumping into his back, per Tancredi Palmeri of beIN Sport:
But Neymar was still willing to forgive him, per Lang:
In the midst of all of this, he also spoke of the 2018 World Cup, because it's never too soon to look ahead, right?
He then discussed his agent, who had some nasty things to say about Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari after the loss to Germany, per Matt Dickinson of The Times:
To be clear, Neymar wasn't always calmly and coolly expressing himself in the above statements. In fact, he was quite emotional, according to former player and current pundit Gary Lineker:
It was the sort of moment that will forever endear Neymar to the Brazilian fans, even after the disappointment of their semifinal loss, as Grant Wahl of SI.com noted:
He's absolutely right. The fact that Neymar wasn't involved in the embarrassing loss to Germany but was quite good while he was in action means that in no way has his reputation been stained by this year's World Cup.
In fact, between his play, Brazil's utter collapse without him and his very emotional, very genuine comments on Thursday, Neymar's star has never burned brighter. He's not just a superstar; he's a superstar who gets it, who connects with his countrymen on a deep level, whose sorrow on Tuesday was as deep as their own.
That will resonate. Perhaps that will inspire his teammates against the Dutch on Saturday. But no one will ever be able to say that Neymar didn't deeply, passionately care about what happened in this year's World Cup.
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