Published On: Sun, Aug 21st, 2016

Neymar steps down as Brazil captain

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Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Neymar has relinquished the captain’s armband after inspiring Brazil to glory at Rio 2016.

The Barcelona forward scored during normal time and then struck the winning penalty on Saturday as the Selecao earned its first-ever Olympic gold at Germany’s expense.

Related: Neymar seizes Brazil’s 1st soccer gold in shootout defeat of Germany

But, aged just 24, Neymar has opted to step down as skipper on a high.

“Today I have become a champion, and I give up the captain’s armband,” Neymar told SporTV.

“It was an honour to be captain, but from today I stop being captain. I will send a message to (senior coach) Tite that, from now, he can look for another captain.”

Who Tite turns to for his next leader is up for debate. Paris Saint-Germain‘s experienced captain Thiago Silva has struggled to impose himself on the international scene, while some may call for Renato Augusto‘s credentials following his influential showing in the weekend’s gold-medal match. The most likely candidate, however, would be centre-half Miranda, who served as captain at this summer’s Copa America Centenario in Neymar’s absence.

The highly decorated Neymar refused to rank his achievements in the game, but inspiring his country to Olympic glory on home soil must be among the Sao Paulo native’s greatest feats.

“I do not like to put one title above the other – every competition I contest and win is important,” Neymar continued.

“Of course, it had great importance to Brazil and thank God we did it – after a lot of struggling, work and concentration.”

Brazil captured gold following a limp group stage performance, and despite gaining momentum in the subsequent matches, Saturday’s showpiece required spot kicks. It was the first time the men’s final had been decided in this manner for 16 years.

Neymar’s next international commitment should come on Sept. 1, when Brazil continues its 2018 World Cup qualification campaign in Ecuador.

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