Rio de Janeiro, Sep 7 (IANS) Brazilian national football team head coach Tite has named Paris Saint-Germain star forward Neymar Jr. as his squad’s full-time captain ahead of Friday night’s friendly against the United States in New Jersey.
Neymar had previously served as Brazil’s captain at the 2016 Rio Olympics but relinquished that responsibility after the squad won the goal medal, reports Efe news.
Over the past two years, more than a dozen players have worn the captain’s armband, with Thiago Silva, Miranda and Marcelo sharing that duty during the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“It’s a great honor to be named captain, and I’ll do everything to fulfill that duty and help the team win,” Neymar said, adding that he gave up that responsibility two years ago due to the tremendous pressure he was under at the time.
“It’s difficult for someone else to know all that I went through, not only during the (Olympic) Games but all these years,” he said.
Neymar appeared at a news conference Thursday for the first time since Brazil was eliminated in a 2-1 loss to Belgium in the 2018 World Cup quarter-finals. After the tournament, Neymar said it was difficult to summon the strength to return to action.
“I was the target of a lot of criticism, and I didn’t feel well,” he said. “When I’m not feeling well, it’s better to keep quiet. It’s better to do my talking on the field. I decided to accept being captain because I’ve learned a lot of things and I’ll keep learning lots more. This responsibility will be really good for me.”
Tite said of Neymar’s full-time appointment that “time passes and people grow and mature.”
“All the time we’ve been with Neymar we’ve faced important situations,” the coach said. “He’s ready to take this next step.”
Brazil will play its first match since the World Cup on Friday against the US in East Rutherford, New Jersey, followed by another friendly against El Salvador on September 11 in Landover, Maryland.