Neymar on ‘painful’ WC exit: I cried for five days

Neymar said he “cried for five days straight” after Brazil‘s 2022 World Cup exit and added that he considered international retirement after their quarterfinal defeat to Croatia.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward, 31, hasn’t played for his country since the penalty shootout loss on Dec. 9.

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Neymar put Brazil ahead with what looked like the winning goal in extra time before Croatia levelled with three minutes remaining and went on to win the shootout to progress to the semifinals.

“I can’t tell you what went through my head,” Neymar told YouTuber Casimiro. “It was the most painful defeat of my career, for sure. I cried for five straight days. It hurt me a lot that my dream had turned to nothing.

“I’d have preferred not to have scored the goal, for it to stay 0-0 and lose on penalties, rather than ‘I scored the goal, they equalised and we lost on penalties.’ It’s a pain that only the players and staff can understand.

“It was the worst moment of my life. It felt like a funeral, someone crying on one side of you, someone else crying on the other. It was horrible, a feeling I don’t want to experience that again.”

Neymar has featured for Brazil at three World Cups: 2014, 2018 and 2022.

In 2014, they were humiliated 7-1 by eventual winners Germany in the semifinals on home soil after the forward suffered a back injury in the previous round.

Four years later in Russia, Brazil were beaten 2-1 by Belgium in the quarterfinals before being eliminated at the same stage by Croatia in Qatar in 2022.

In an interview with CazeTV, Neymar said he had contemplated international retirement after the latest disappointment but was now ready to go again in 2026.

“After the [2022] World Cup, I honestly didn’t want to [return to the Brazil national team],” he said. “But I’ve changed my mind. Because I’m very hungry, right? I changed my mind.

“After the World Cup, I didn’t want to go through the pain of losing again. Seeing my family suffering a lot, that weighs heavily on me. But they will have to put up with it again. It will be good. It has to be.”

Brazil’s 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign gets underway in September.

The CBF has appointed Fluminense’s Fernando Diniz as their new interim head coach on a one-year contract, as they pursue Real Madrid‘s Carlo Ancelotti as a long-term appointment.

Neymar is back in preseason training with PSG, now coached by his former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique.

They play Le Havre in a friendly on Friday before leaving for a tour of Japan that will see them face Al Nassr, Cerezo Osaka and Inter Milan.

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