Deco denies Neymar criticism

Last Updated: Apr 05, 2013, 14:30 PM IST

Rio de Janeiro: Former Portugal international midfielder Deco has apologised to Neymar after being quoted as saying that he did not like the striker.

In an interview with a Brazilian radio station Wednesday, Deco was reported saying: "I don`t like him as a person. As a footballer, I admire him. He is a star." The 35-year-old sought to defuse the situation after the comments made headlines on the sports pages of Brazil`s major newspapers.

"I was in a rush to leave and the journalist asked me if I thought Neymar should play in Europe. I said I didn`t have an opinion and that it depends on what he would like personally. I`m not sure how but the impression was that I said I don`t like him as a person. If you analyse the context it`s clear that I didn`t say that. To the contrary I really like the guy," the Fluminense star said Thursday.

Deco revealed he "didn`t sleep" after receiving phone calls Wednesday night from friends surprised at his alleged comments. The former Porto, Barcelona and Chelsea star said he had contacted Fluminense teammate Fred, who plays with Neymar in Brazil`s national team, to ask for the 21-year-old`s phone number.

"I called him and said, `Ney, I`m sorry. It was a misunderstanding`. Everything is fine now. My worry was that he was going to believe what the press wrote. I hope not. There is no problem between us. Neymar knows me and I have known his father since 2010. I would never say that. It`s totally against what I think. He is a great guy. If I had said it, I would accept it without a problem. But just take a look at my record. Have I ever given a personal opinion about anyone," Deco said.