The Paris Saint-Germain star left Russia having scored two goals in five games as Brazil failed to play their best football, despite topping Group E without losing a match and then beating Mexico 2-0 in the round of 16.
Headlines in the aftermath of the victory over Mexico focused on Neymar’s theatrical reaction to challenges made on him rather than his performance, and he was powerless to stop Brazil losing 2-1 to Belgium in the last eight.
In his first social media comments following the defeat, Neymar posted a message on his Instagram account, saying: “I can say that it is the saddest moment of my career.
“The pain is very great because we knew we could get there, we knew we had the conditions to go further, to make history, but it was not this time.”
Neymar, who only just recovered from a metatarsal injury in time to play in Russia, spoke of his pride in his team-mates, who failed to emulate Brazil’s achievement of reaching the semi-finals in 2014.
He admitted the experience had left him deflated, saying: “Difficult to find the strength to want to play football again, but I’m sure God will give me enough strength to face anything, so I’ll never stop thanking God, even in defeat, because I know that your way is much better than mine.
“Very happy to be part of this team, I am proud of all, interrupted our dream but they did not get out of our head and neither of our hearts.”