World News

Neymar backtracks on Brazil retirement after 2022 World Cup

Tom Gott
Neymar previously hinted he could quit international football
Neymar previously hinted he could quit international football / Buda Mendes/GettyImages

Neymar has insisted that his comments on walking away from the Brazil national team after the 2022 World Cup have been 'misunderstood' and he has no plans to retire from international duty.

The Paris Saint-Germain star recently gave an emotional interview in which he confessed that he sees next year's spectacle in Qatar as his last World Cup, admitting he did not feel strong enough mentally to feature in further competitions down the line.

The meaning of his words seemed pretty concrete, but nevertheless, Neymar has now backtracked on that sentiment and claimed that he views every match as his last as a way to motivate himself.

"I said something, but people understood a different thing," he told Red Bull. "I said that, yes, this would be my last World Cup and that I would face it in the best way possible.

"I will give my best to be there at 100% because it's as if I had a game the next day, it's how I go about it. If there's a game tomorrow, that game to me, it's as if it was the last one in my life.

"So, for that World Cup that's coming up, I'm thinking about it as if it was the last one for me because I don't know how tomorrow will be and what can happen.

"When I said that, it was a bit controversial, with people saying I wanted to stop playing football and that I would leave the national team. People understood a completely different thing. I wanted to say that I'm seeing it as if it was the last one. Why? Because we don't know how tomorrow will be and what can happen."

Neymar's defence comes shortly after PSG and Brazil team-mate Marquinhos told Le Parisien that the winger's comments had been 'misinterpreted' and he has no plans to walk away from either international or club football.

For Neymar, as well as focusing on the 2022 World Cup, he also has one eye on Pele's record of 77 goals for the Brazilian national team - seven more than the PSG has managed to date.

"I think this is one of those I want to achieve because it's for my country, the national team I play for and for the country I was born in," he continued. "I don't think I can express myself to say how it would feel if I achieved that goal. It's something I have as a clear goal.

"I believe every player when they're about to reach something, they're even more motivated. But I'm far from thinking I'm better than Pele or comparing myself to him. I have this opportunity of overtaking Pele's goal record, yes, but my respect for him is bigger and, I'm sure, when I score that 77th goal I'll pay homage to him.

"Pele means football. Ever since I understood what football was, I always heard the name of Pele. If someone on the street, on a field or at school would dribble past three players and scored a goal, someone would always say, 'you scored a goal like Pele'.

"Or when you had someone at school acting up and thinking they were the best, we would say, 'do you think you're Pele?'. These type of expressions I've been hearing since I was a child.

"Pele to me is the king of football, the biggest idol in Brazil. I have a huge amount of respect for him and for everything he did for our football and country. If Brazil is nowadays world-famous for football, it's because of him. We are really blessed that Pele was born in Brazil."