RIO DE JANEIRO - Impetuous Santos
prodigy Neymar has apologised for acts of indiscipline that
have marred the rapid rise to fame he has enjoyed in just a
few months, which includes being courted by Chelsea and playing
The gifted 18-year-old forward, who turned down a 20
million euro move to Chelsea and made his Brazil debut in
August, had been in danger of spoiling his image as a smiling,
carefree youngster brimming with talent on the pitch and
relaxed off it.
Last Sunday, he sparked a free-for-all at the end of Santos'
2-1 away loss to Ceara after berating a rival defender for his
rough marking. Police had to separate the players.
He also chastised captain Edu Dracena and coach Dorival
Junior after Edu chose another player to take a penalty in
Santos' 4-2 home win over Atletico Goianiense on Wednesday.
Fined by Santos and criticised publicly by his team mates
after his heated exchange with Edu and Dorival, he made an
emotional statement on Thursday to try to erase the bad
"I'm here to say more than sorry and (I expect) no pardon.
I got home and saw what I'd done," Neymar told reporters while
holding back tears. "I acted wrongly, I left even my father and
mother shocked... I'm ashamed of what happened.
"I say sorry to Dorival, sorry to Edu, who is the team
captain, and to my team mates. I apologise to... kids who look
up to Neymar. Forgive me for what I did."
Possibly a mere coincidence, the behaviour of one of
Brazilian football's biggest jewels began after he turned Chelsea
down to sign a new five-year contract with Santos.
In the first half of the year, he shared the limelight with
the on loan Robinho and fellow youngster Paulo Henrique Ganso
as part of a brilliant trio that inspired Santos to the
Paulista (Sao Paulo) state championship and the Copa Brasil.
Now, Robinho has left for AC Milan and Ganso is out until
next year through injury.
Santos said they would help Neymar in whatever way they
could but at the same time expected a professional attitude
"The club will demand deep changes in his behaviour on and
off the field, with his colleagues and opponents and will
support the player so this moment of difficulty can be
overcome," they said in a statement.
Seen as a key component for the future of the Brazil side
that will host the 2014 World Cup, Neymar's behaviour has been
closely watched by national team coach Mano Menezes, who
expressed his concern.
"He needs to know how to behave as a stand-out player in
Brazilian football and later out there in world football,"
Menezes told TV Globo.
"If we allow these (things) to happen with such frequency
in his club, in no time it will get transferred to the Brazil
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