French footballing legend Eric Cantona has delivered a hilarious smack-down on Neymar, who has been widely condemned by fans for his play-acting in the World Cup win against Mexico.
Neymar mixed the brilliant with the absurd as he helped engineer Brazil’s passage into the quarter-finals courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Mexico in their round of 16 clash.
The Brazil superstar’s form and perceived penchant for theatrics have been roundly criticised at this tournament, including by Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio after their match.
Few critics however, can match the unique humour of Manchester United great Cantona, who rips into Neymar during one of his latest videos.
Watch it at the top of the page.
Cantona hilariously compares the Brazil star’s over-the-top rolling with a suitcase, before offering him some brutal advice about the antics that have left a foul taste in the mouth of fans on social media.
Joking aside, Neymar for me represents everything that is wrong with football: pointless showboating, disrespect, diving, selfishness, pursuit of money, attention-seeking, hurting your team but pleasing the masses with a piece of skill, lack of professionalism—everything.
— Sherif (@_unexpurgated) July 2, 2018
Neymar's diving this World Cup has been embarrassing
— infosmessi (@INFOSMESSl) July 2, 2018
Neymar needs to start getting yellows for diving and making a show I swear he wouldn’t last a game without being kicked out 😑😑😑
— Valeria❤️⚽️ (@ValeeLaPena) July 2, 2018
Neymar is an absolute baller but he makes modern footballers look weak and absurd with all the acting and diving. What a shame.
— Ruzain (@RuzainRidzuan) July 2, 2018
The PSG superstar endured a muted first half in Samara, but burst into life six minutes after the interval to give the Selecao a deserved lead, sliding the ball home from close-range after smart interplay with Willian.
He also played a vital role in Roberto Firmino’s second two minutes from time, surging through on goal and seeing his low shot diverted into his team-mate’s path by the foot of Guillermo Ochoa.
Neymar also ensured he made headlines for other reasons, though, after his dramatic over-reaction to a clash with Miguel Layun 20 minutes from time.
The Mexico substitute did appear to make contact with Neymar’s leg as he retrieved the ball on the sideline, but the incident hardly seemed worthy of the histrionics that followed, and referee Gianluca Rocchi was not convinced to brandish a card.
Mexico head coach Osorio subsequently admonished Neymar, accusing him of “acting” and describing the 26-year-old as a “poor example for the world of football and all the children.”
“This is a real shame for football,” the Mexico coach said after the game.
“We lost our style in the second half, due to the referee’s style of too many stoppages and my players got tired of that situation.
“There was a situation where there was a four-minute stoppage and that’s a poor example for the world of football and all the children.
“It’s a strong sport, a man’s sport and I think there shouldn’t be so much acting.”
Brazil coach Tite leapt to the defence of his under-fire star, insisting Neymar was the victim on this occasion.
“I saw what happened, look at the video, you can say nothing,” the coach told a post-match news conference.
“They stepped on him. I just said play, I saw it on the screen, there’s nothing to say, all you can do is watch.
“He has to play ball and I will talk about it, the referees will do the refereeing and everyone will do what they have to do.”
Neymar himself claimed the criticism was part of a campaign to “undermine” him at the World Cup.
“I don’t much care for criticism or praise because this can influence a player’s attitude,” Neymar told reporters.
“In the last two matches I didn’t talk to the press because there’s too many people talking, some people get excited and show off.
“I just have to play, help my team and nothing else.
“I’m here to win so I hope that I can improve, I knew I would need time to get back to my normal pace.
“Today I feel much better and I’m very happy for the match, not only individually but for the whole team. I congratulate my team for the work and effort and we’re improving all the time.”
Brazil now faces a quarter-final showdown against Belgium, who came from two goals down to clinch a dramatic late win against Japan in their round of 16 thriller.