Brazil legend Ronaldo defended Neymar and opined that the future of the Brazil national team was very bright after Croatia eliminated the five-time champions in the 2022 World Cup.
Starting with Neymar, El Phenomenon believed that his desire would not be hampered, but he also advised the player to ignore the taboo around mental health in sport and seek professional help.
Ronaldo revealed recently that he had been going to therapy for nearly three years, saying: "Today, I am in therapy. I have been in therapy for two and a half years and I understand myself much better than before."
He advised Neymar to do the same. "Neymar will come back with the same desire. But I want to reinforce the need to monitor the mental health of our athletes. It is very important for us to address this issue, especially when it comes to the World Cup, where the whole world is looking at the national team. The world was looking at Neymar," the 46-year-old said.
"I would advise having a psychological follow-up after this pressure, which is extremely disproportionate for human beings.
"When I saw the interview saying that I was psychologically destroyed, it broke my heart and I also felt psychologically destroyed. I wanted to find a way to help Neymar. That help exists today. In my day it was little talked about."
Ronaldo also praised the overall team, saying that there was a lot to build upon before the 2026 World Cup in the USA, Canada and Mexico, but admitted that there was a lack of gamesmanship in extra time against Croatia.
"The team had a lot of positives that we can reuse. Talented young people and the most experienced performed super well. We had a lot of good things in this World Cup, but for a small detail -- that trickery and catimba (gamesmanship) -- which was missing after scoring the goal in overtime."
"There, the game should already start to slow down, keep possession of the ball. Croatia was already tired. We learn this very early on, how to ice the game, keep possession of the ball. With the quality of our team it should have been easier. That is where we sinned."
When asked if Neymar's image would be affected by not winning a World Cup in his career, Ronaldo was emphatic in replying that the player is already established.
"There's no risk of throwing away absolutely everything Neymar has done in his career. Everything you've done is done. Neymar is consecrated. Logically everyone wants to win the World Cup and everyone starts to realize that it's not easy. We have five stars, we are the biggest winners. The vast majority of people think we're going to win them all. And that's not how it works. The World Cup is a very complex competition."
Ronaldo also criticised those who argue that Neymar should have shot earlier in the shoout as he ultimately did not get to step up for the decisive fifth spot-kick.
“I think that changing the penalty sequence is extremely delicate. Approaching a player and showing that you have no confidence in him, asking another to take his place. That doesn't exist in football. If you ask to change it, it's absurd. Those who support this theory do not understand the dynamics of a group.”