Neymar has branded Brazil’s World Cup quarter-final defeat at the hands of Belgium “the saddest moment of my career” and admits he is struggling to “find the strength to play again”.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward headed to Russia short of match sharpness but expected to carry the expectations of a nation.
He never truly sparkled on the grandest of stages, with a pre-tournament broken metatarsal denying him the opportunity to produce his best.
In the end, Neymar’s theatrics generated more headlines than his football, with the 26-year-old considered to have spent too much time on the floor and not enough on his feet.
He did come close to snatching a dramatic leveller in the dying stages of a last eight encounter with Belgium, but his effort at the end of a contest in which he made little telling contribution was tipped over the top by Thibaut Courtois.
Neymar and the rest of the Brazil squad are now heading home from an event in which they were considered to be the favourites.
Failure to deliver on that billing has left the Selecao despondent, with their talismanic frontman admitting that another failure is proving difficult to stomach.