Olympics: Brazil hero Neymar steps down as captain

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 21, (APP/AFP)- Barcelona star Neymar
said he will step down as Brazil captain on Saturday after leading the Olympic Games’ hosts to their first ever football gold medal.

“It was an honour to be captain, but from today I am no longer captain,” Neymar told SporTV after scoring the winning penalty in a 5-4 shootout win over Germany.

New coach of the Brazil senior side Tite will take charge of his first game in charge against Ecuador on September 1 after Dunga was sacked following Brazil’s group stage exit from the Copa America.

“To send the message to Tite that from now he can look for another  captain,” added Neymar.

Neymar captained the mainly under-23 side during the Games and Brazil’s Olympic coach Rogerio Micale described his decision to step down as “noble.”

“It was a noble gesture on Neymar’s part to leave it up to Tite,” said Micale.

“We had this discussion and it wasn’t public at the time before. I decided I wanted him to be captain, he was the best person to be captain for the team.

“He knows that, the team knows that, but I repeat it was a noble gesture on Neymar’s part to let Tite decide who will be the captain.

“It demonstrates maturity on Neymar’s part, he is a leader in the national team, he is dedicated. I finish this tournament with the best possible impressions of Neymar as do the team.”

The 24-year-old’s role as captain was questioned after he was sent-off in just his second competitive match in the role against Colombia at last year’s Copa America.

Neymar was also roundly criticised for his underwhelming displays in Brazil’s opening 0-0 draws against South Africa and Iraq and slammed his critics after scoring not only Brazil’s winning penalty, but also a brilliant free-kick the gold
medal match.

“This is one of the best things that has happened in my life,” he said.

“Now they’ll (the critics) have to swallow what they said.”