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Neymar says he is “psychologically destroyed” by Croatia’s World Cup defeat

“I am psychologically destroyed,” wrote the Brazilian striker on his Instagram account, which has received 18.8 million likes.

Brazilian Neymar said his team’s elimination from the 2022 World Cup after a devastating penalty shootout loss to Croatia has “psychologically destroyed” him.

The Seleçãol were knocked out by Croatia on Friday in a stunning 4-2 quarter-final on penalties that left Neymar in tears.

“I am psychologically destroyed,” Neymar said in an Instagram post on Saturday. “It is definitely the loss that has hurt me the most, which left me paralyzed for 10 minutes after the game, after which I burst into tears without being able to stop.”

“It’s going to hurt for a long time, unfortunately,” he said.

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Her revealing Instagram post has amassed over 18.8 million likes and counting.

Neymar, who has hinted this could be his last World Cup, said on Friday he was not sure if he would return to Brazil’s side for another race at the Coupe Du Monde.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Neymar, 30, told reporters in Al Rayyan, Qatar, after the heartbreaking defeat.

But in response to Neymar’s emotional Instagram post on Saturday, Brazilian soccer legend Pele urged him to “continue to be an inspiration.”

On Friday, Neymar had put Brazil on track to cement a place in the semi-final by scoring the game’s opener in the first half of extra time, tying Pelé for his country’s all-time leading scorer with 77 goals in 124 international matches. But Croatia, who scored an equalizer in the dying minutes of stoppage time, finally snuck in with a win on penalties, shocking Brazil.

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Neymar from Brazil at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar on November 24, 2022 [Reuters/Dylan Martinez] (Reuters)

Neymar broke down in tears in midfield after teammate Marquinhos’s shot hit the post to give Croatia victory.

He was destined to take the fifth penalty that never came.

In a remarkable and moving post-match moment, Brazilian defender Dani Alves was quick to come to his aid, hugging a tearful Neymar as he absorbed his fate.

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“I should have taken the fifth and decisive penalty,” Brazilian coach Tite told reporters after the game. “The player with the most quality and mental ability is the one who should be in charge when the pressure is high.”

Pele, 82, who was hospitalized earlier this month with a respiratory infection amid a cancer diagnosis, also congratulated Neymar on tying his record in a post of his own on Instagram.

“I watched you grow, I cheered you on every day and I can finally congratulate you for matching my number of goals with the Brazil National Team,” Pelé wrote. “We both know that it is much more than a number. Our greatest duty as athletes is to inspire.”

He called Neymar a national “inspiration” again.

“Unfortunately, the day is not the happiest for us, but you will always be the source of inspiration that many aspire to be,” added the soccer great. “I have learned that as time goes by, our legacy grows. My record was set almost 50 years ago and no one has come close until now. [You] I arrived, boy.

croatia vs brazil
A Brazilian fan at the Croatia-Brazil match at Education City Stadium on December 9, 2022 [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Emotions were running high for Brazilian fans in Doha and around the world after Brazil’s unexpected exit from the tournament.

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“The sadness is too much,” Brazilian fan Paolo Souza told Al Jazeera after Friday’s game at Education City Stadium. “We had the best team in the world.”

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In fact, Brazil had been ranked number one by FIFA heading into the 2022 World Cup. And for many fans of the South American team, who will now have to wait another four years for a chance at redemption, the loss struck a chord.

“We were very confident that we could win this year, but it wasn’t meant to be,” Souza said.

“Defeat is so painful.”

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