The world’s most expensive player clocked up an incredible 14 minutes rolling around on the floor during this summer’s showpiece in Russia and became the butt of a number of viral social media memes as a result of his overreactions.
His behaviour overshadowed his own performances in Russia as club-mate Kylian Mbappe stepped out of Neymar’s shadow to become one of the stars of the World Cup.
However, in a revealing interview for a Gillette Brasil, Neymar spoke of how he was targeted by opponents after only recently coming back from a metatarsal injury and that he sometimes found himself unable to cope.
"Kick in the spine. Stomp on the foot. You may think I overreact, and sometimes I do. But for real? I suffer on the pitch. But you have no idea what I go through outside of it.
"When I leave without talking to the press it's not because I only like winning but because I still don't know how to disappoint you.
"When I act like a brat, it isn't because I'm a spoiled child but because I still haven't learned to deal with my frustrations.
"There's still a boy inside of me. Sometimes it dazzles the world. Other times, it pisses every one off. And my fight is to keep this boy alive. But inside of me, not inside the field.
"You may think I've fallen too much. But the reality is I did not fall, I crumbled. And that hurts more than anyone stepping on your post-op ankle."
"I took time to accept your criticism. I took time to look at myself in the mirror and become a new man. But now I'm here, with my heart wide open.
"I fell. But only those who fall, can get up. You can keep throwing rocks at me. Or you can throw your rocks away and help me get up. Because when I do get up, buddy, the whole country gets up with me."
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