Rio De Janeiro – Sifting through the ruins of Brazil's World Cup campaign, star player Neymar says his team strove hard for glory, but other countries have moved ahead and they must catch up.
While refusing to pin the blame on former handler Luiz Felipe Scolari, Neymar also warned young players to beware the damage some coaches could do to young players' development.
In an exclusive interview with Globo television broadcast Sunday, the 22-year-old said Brazil deserved at best seven out of ten for a Cup showing which ended with a 7-1 semi-final mauling by champions Germany.
Asked why Brazil failed Neymar said there were simply things that could not be explained.
“We cried because it was our childhood dream (to win it) and had fought hard to get to where we were.”
He added he believed he would have chosen the same 23 players as Scolari for the roster – but insisted Brazil must realize it has fallen down the pecking order and has no automatic right to success.
“I think Brazilian football is behind. It's behind Germany and Spain. We've slipped behind and we have to be man enough to admit it.”
The Barcelona star was forced to watch the semi-final from his coastal home in Sao Paulo state after he suffered a fractured vertebrae during the quarter-final with Colombia.
In that game, he was clattered in the back by Juan Camilo Zuniga in a “move that had nothing to do with football,” though he accepted the Colombian's later apology.
Forced onto the sidelines, Neymar said there was no particular reason why Brazil's campaign suddenly crashed around them.
“There was no particular mistake made by the Selecao. I am not someone who understands a huge amount about tactics,” he said.
And he refused to blame Scolari, Brazil's 2002 World Cup-winning coach who resigned after the tournament.
“I had a leader (who was) one of the best Brazilian coaches I've had,” he said.
Neymar insisted the team were sharp from training.
“We always trained,” he said. “We gave our all.”
He did indicate, however, that the intensity of training in Brazil could be lower than in Europe.
“You train more, but sometimes you train with less determination. That's how Brazilians are.”
Neymar revealed he felt some coaching of youngsters in the game was harmful, such as when they are told on occasion to get the ball onto their stronger foot.
“The information passed onto a player is important – you have to ask why a player did (something in error).
“I almost learned things wrongly. The ball would come to my left leg. The coach would say to switch it onto my right foot to kick as I am right-handed.
“So then my father corrected that and said, no, if the ball coes to your left leg then you hit it with your left.”
Neymar said he would seek to fulfill his World Cup dream in four years time in Russia.
Already a father from a previous relationship, Neymar claimed that, at 22, it was too early to be thinking of marrying his 18-year-old flame, actress Bruna Marquezine.
Brazil are now looking to revamp their footballing structures, and are Tuesday set to re-appoint former coach Dunga to prepare for the Selecao's next tournament, the 2015 Copa America in Chile. – Sapa-AFP