Brazil star Neymar hinted he might quit international football on Friday, saying he could not "100 percent" guarantee he would play for the national team again, even as he received support from the great Pele.
Brazil suffered more knockout pain as Croatia stunned the South Americans 4-2 on penalties on Friday to reach the World Cup semi-finals for the second time in a row after battling back from a goal down in extra time.
After the World Cup quarter-final defeat in Qatar, the Paris Saint-Germain superstar suggested he could step away.
"I am not closing any doors on the national team but I am also not guaranteeing 100 percent that I will return," said an emotional Neymar, 30.
"I need to think a bit more about this, about what is the right thing for me and for the national team."
Neymar equalled Pele's record tally of 77 goals for Brazil with a brilliant strike on Friday but Bruno Petkovic levelled with minutes remaining.
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Rodrygo's effort was saved by Dominik Livakovic and Marquinhos hit the post, while Croatia scored all four of their efforts to win the shootout. Four years ago in Russia, Neymar and Brazil suffered elimination at the same stage at the hands of Belgium.
"It is an awful feeling, I think this is a worse feeling than what happened at the last World Cup," said Neymar. "It is difficult to find the words to describe this moment.
"We fought and I am proud of my teammates, proud of the character they showed to step up and take penalties."
While there was despair in Brazil, Neymar did receive support. Pele congratulated Neymar for matching his national team scoring record, and then commiserated with the player for his World Cup exit.
Pele, who has been hospitalised while being treated for a respiratory infection, posted his message on Instagram after Brazil's defeat.
“I saw you grow, I cheered for you every day and I can finally congratulate you for reaching my number of goals with Brazil. We both know that this is more than a figure,” the 82-year-old Pele wrote. “Our biggest duty as athletes is to inspire. Inspire our teammates of today, the next generations and, above all, everyone who loves our sport.
“Unfortunately this is not the happiest day for us,” he added. “My record was set almost 50 years ago, and nobody had managed to get near it until now. You got there, kid. That shows how great your achievement is.”
Meanwhile, Tite confirmed that it was the "end of a cycle" for him as coach of Brazil.
The 61-year-old, who has been in charge since 2016, had previously made it no secret that he would leave the position after the tournament in Qatar, regardless of the outcome.
"It is a painful defeat but I go in peace. It is the end of a cycle," he said.
"I already said that a year and a half ago. I didn't come here to win and then turn around and say I was going to stay. People who know me know that."