Originally published on cbc.ca/sports
Neymar has decided to step down as captain of the national team after leading Brazil to Olympic soccer glory.
His announcement came immediately after Brazil’s penalty shootout victory over Germany on Saturday at the Maracana Stadium.
“It was an honour to be captain, but from today I stop,” Neymar, who has worn the armband since September 2014, told SporTV in Portuguese. “I will send a message to [senior coach] Tite that, from now, he can look for another captain.”
While the gold medal game ended well for Brazil, providing a modicum of revenge for the 7-1 loss to Germany at the 2014 World Cup — a match in which Neymar didn’t feature due to injury — the team endured a difficult tournament.
Neymar was under considerable pressure as the most recognizable player at the Olympics. After the team failed to score in its first two games against South Africa and Iraq, fans began booing as well as scratching Neymar’s name off of their jerseys.
But after scoring Brazil’s first goal in the gold medal game as well as the shootout winner, Neymar, once again, had become Brazil’s favourite son, dropping to his knees in both prayer and elation following the match.
“I can’t begin to describe them [my feelings,]” said Neymar. “I have fulfilled my dream, and to have fulfilled it in my home country makes me very proud.”
While Neymar didn’t disclose his reasons for stepping down he did say “now my critics will have to shut up” according to ESPN FC.
On Saturday a more relaxed Neymar, posted an image of his latest tattoo, the Olympic rings with the words “Rio 2016” inscribed just above his left wrist.
The player also took to the stands, along with teammate Gabriel Jesús to cheer to help cheer Brazil to another gold in men’s volleyball.