Brazil legend Pele has paid tribute to Richarlison, telling the forward to “never change” after the Selecao were knocked out of the World Cup.
Pre-tournament favourites Brazil crashed out of the tournament in Qatar when they were beaten by Croatia at the quarter-final stage on Friday.
Tite’s side had hoped to earn their sixth World Cup title before they suffered heartbreak, prompting Richarlison to post an apology to fans on social media.
But Pele – who has been hospitalised amid the tournament back home in Sao Paulo – has offered his encouragement to the 25-year-old, crediting him for his resolve.
“Just keep on keeping on kid,” he wrote underneath the former Everton man’s Instagram post. “And never change. You made Brazil smile.”
Richarlison – who departed the tournament with three goals to his name, including a sensational overhead kick against Serbia in the group stage – emotionally reflected on a missed opportunity.
“Writing this is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he penned. “This is a wound that will stay open forever, because we all know the chances we had to get that title.
“My friends and I are going to have to live with it. Some (or many) won’t even get another chance. Now it’s time to lick our wounds, apologise to all of you and get our head straight.”
Brazil’s exit represents their fifth successive shortfall in the World Cup, with the Selecao having only reached the semi-finals once since they last won the tournament in 2002.
Croatia will play Argentina next week in the first semi-final, with the 2018 runners-up looking to make feature in back-to-back finals.
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