Brazil World Cup winner Cafu conceded Neymar's performances in Russia fell short of expectations, but claimed the Paris Saint-Germain forward remains the country's "greatest revelation in the last 10 years".
After recovering from a metatarsal injury just in time to make the trip to Russia, Neymar scored twice in five games as Brazil were knocked out by Belgium in the quarter-finals, though he was roundly criticised in the media for his histrionic reactions to challenges.
Cafu, who is Brazil's most capped player with 142 appearances for the Selecao, admitted that Neymar failed to live up to his billing as one of the potential stars of the tournament, but backed the 26-year-old to overcome the disappointment.
"We all expect a lot from the ace," Cafu told Globo Esporte. "Neymar is an ace and we expect him to do different things on the pitch.
4 - Brazil have now been eliminated by a European nation in each of the last four editions of the World Cup (France 2006, Netherlands 2010, Germany 2014 and Belgium 2018). Exit.#WorldCup #BraBel #Bra #Bel pic.twitter.com/cSAzbQX1q8— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 6, 2018
"This is normal. It's obvious that criticism is going to fall on Neymar because of what happened. Were Neymar's performance what we expected? No. They were a little below, because from an ace people always expect something different.
"If he has to change some things or not, that's his decision. He knows what's best for his career, for football.
"We have a great player. He is our greatest revelation in the last 10 years, one of the greatest Brazilian players of recent times. The World Cup is unforgiving.
"We want to see Neymar happy, happy, happy because it is good for him and for Brazilian football. He's a smart boy. He knows what he did at the World Cup, what he can do better and how to move forward."
In his assessment of Brazil's World Cup showing, Cafu was somewhat more critical of Brazil coach Tite and striker Gabriel Jesus.
He described part of Brazil's performance in the 2-1 quarter-final defeat to Belgium as "a mistake" on behalf of the head coach, while lamenting Jesus' failure to find the net.
"Although he only made a mistake for 30 minutes, he made a mistake," Cafu said of Tite. "This is fatal in the World Cup, it can result in elimination and put the work in doubt.
"But if Tite continues, we'll support him. There's a lot of work ahead."
On Jesus, he added: "The striker is known for scoring goals. Tactically, Gabriel Jesus was fantastic for Brazil. That is not disputed.
"But unfortunately he went blank at the World Cup, and when the strike doesn't score goals he is criticised."
|Macron to greet France team after Champs Elysees parade|
|Casillas and Suarez critical of VAR after World Cup final|
|TMO protocol clearly not working, says SANZAAR|
|Americans seek joy of six at Carnoustie, Rose out to end wretched run - The Open in Opta facts|
|Ronaldo arrives in Turin for Juventus medical|
|Stone: I had no idea what my score was!|
|The Open: A look back at Van de Velde´s Carnoustie calamity|
|Rakitic proud of ´brother´ Modric´s Golden Ball award|
|Serena can surpass Court, but Graf was the real target - Krajicek|
|Ronaldo moved to remain motivated - Kaka|
|Silva confident on Everton transfer targets|
|Golden Boot winner Kane aims to break August hoodoo|
|NFL training camp 2018: Contract holdouts and where they stand|
|Guardiola took me to another level - Alaba|
|Madrid selling Ronaldo a ´historic error´ - Calderon|
|MLS Review: LAFC, Atlanta held at home|
|Stones will watch re-runs of England´s World Cup matches|
|Ferdinand challenges Mourinho to unleash Pogba at United|
|Mbappe: I´m staying at PSG|
|Former NHL goalie Ray Emery found dead|
|Pirates secure five-game sweep of Brewers with walk-off win|
|WATCH: LeBron receives standing ovation at Lakers´ summer league game|
|Tony Romo wins celebrity-filled American Century Championship|
|McGregor praises Putin after attending World Cup final|
|Open-bound Kim claims maiden title with eight-shot triumph|
|Eagles running back Sproles plans to retire after next season|
|World Cup winner Rami retires from international football|
|Wimbledon champion Djokovic did not expect grand slam glory so soon|
|Ibrahimovic praises Pogba after World Cup final display|
|Wimbledon diary: Avengers too late for an Infinity War as Djokovic triumphs|
|Deschamp-agne – France´s 2018 vintage interrupt news conference to drench coach|
|I may have to dust my boots off! - Pele threatened by Mbappe exploits|
|WATCH: Mendy and Pogba dab with president Macron after World Cup win|
|Woods embracing ´different´ Carnoustie challenge ahead of Open return|
|Argentina dismiss Sampaoli after chaotic World Cup|
|France celebrates World Cup triumph|
|Djokovic made ´improvised Wimbledon trophies´ as a boy|
|Stone goes agonisingly close to 59 as Pepperell & Dantorp also make Open|
|Outcast Benzema delights in France win|
|Final a triumph in itself given Croatia´s off-field turmoil|
|Anderson laments Wimbledon final nerves|
|Deschamps joins elite club, Mbappe second to Pele - the best stats from the World Cup final|
|Belgium´s Courtois wins World Cup Golden Glove|
|Collarbone fracture confirmed for ´devastated´ Porte|
|World Cup final player ratings: Griezmann, Mbappe inspire France as Croatia fall short|
|World Cup winner Giroud ends tournament without shot on target|
|Modric wins World Cup Golden Ball|
|Mbappe wins World Cup Young Player award|
|Deschamps redeemed as France win World Cup final for the ages|
|France 4 Croatia 2: Twitter Report|
|Tomlin optimistic over Bell contract|
|Kane wins World Cup Golden Boot|
|Ajax keen on Blind deal - Van der Sar|
|France 4 Croatia 2: Pogba and Mbappe seal thrilling World Cup triumph|
|Anderson would have played another 21 hours to reach Wimbledon final|
|Djokovic delighted to crown ´comeback´ with Wimbledon glory|
|World Cup final interrupted by pitch invaders - Pussy Riot claim responsibility|
|Djokovic´s grass-court U-turn pays ultimate dividends with Wimbledon title|
|Mandzukic makes World Cup history with early own goal|
|Dominant Djokovic beats Anderson to regain Wimbledon title|
|Everybody said I´m done - Degenkolb revels in first Tour victory|
|´Big party´ for Marquez after Sachsenring success|
|Hazard enjoys Belgium´s welcome home|
|Ex-AC Milan president Berlusconi conflicted over Ronaldo to Juventus|
|Spain did not contact Martinez over head coach vacancy|
|Maybe the VAR was watching The Simpsons! - RSL coach Petke slams MLS officials|
|Cubs´ Darvish hopes to return by next weekend|
|France and Croatia name unchanged sides for World Cup final|
|Marquez maintains Sachsenring dominance|
|Courtois claims World Cup has boosted his value|