PSG’s Superstar Neymar Junior has been named Brazil’s permanent captain for a second time, ending a two-year rotation policy under coach Tite.
Speaking to the media on the eve of Brazil’s friendly against the United States at New Jersey’s Metlife Stadium on Friday, Neymar vowed to lead his teammates by example.
“I accepted it again because I’ve learned a lot and I will learn a lot more,” the 26-year-old told reporters. “This responsibility will be a good thing for me.”
Neymar captained the five-time world champions for two years before stepping down in August 2016 after leading Brazil to their first Olympic football gold medal at the Rio Games.
Thursday night’s announcement came less than two months after Neymar was heavily criticized for his exaggerated reaction to fouls during the World Cup in Russia.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward, who returned from a fractured foot just weeks before the tournament, scored twice in a campaign that ended with a quarterfinal loss to Belgium.
“I was targeted for a lot of criticism and I didn’t feel like speaking [to the media after the Belgium defeat],” Neymar said of his decision to ignore interview requests after the World Cup. “When I’m not feeling good, I prefer not to talk.
“I’m fast and light and sometimes I get fouled. Opponents won’t let me go past them without trying to take me down.”
Tite backed Neymar to flourish in the leadership role, saying the former Santos and Barcelona player is now a changed man.
“As time goes by people grow and mature,” he said. “All of us are human beings and we evolve.”