Neymar urged by World Cup great Ronaldo to use haters as motivation to come back stronger

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Neymar must ignore the "envy and malice" of those that have celebrated his World Cup ankle injury and focus on coming back stronger, according to Brazil great Ronaldo.

There has been a mixed reaction to Neymar being ruled out of Brazil's game against Switzerland, and possibly the next fixture against Cameroon too, even among supporters of the Selecao.

Neymar's support for Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who was defeated by Lula in elections last month, has seen some turn against the 30-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward.

That is despite Neymar appearing to be Brazil's most likely driving force at Qatar 2022, where the team are chasing a sixth World Cup title.

Ronaldo was the star of the team that landed the fifth of those trophy successes, with his eight goals at the 2002 finals, including two in the final against Germany, propelling the team to glory.

He described Neymar as "awesome" in an open letter on Instagram, posted on Sunday.

Ronaldo added: "I am sure that most Brazilians, like me, admire and love you. Your talent, by the way, has taken you so far, so high, that there is love and admiration for you in every corner of the world.

"And it is also for this reason, for having reached where you have, for the success you have achieved, that you have to deal with so much envy and malice.

"On a level of celebrating the injury of a star like you, with a story like yours. How far have we come? What world is this? What message are we passing on to our young people? There will always be people rooting against you, but it is sad to see society on a path of trivialising intolerance, of normalising hate speech.

"It is against this verbal violence with destructive power that I write to you today: come back stronger! Smarter! Hungry for goals! The good you do on and off the field is much greater than envy towards you.

"Don't forget for a second the journey that made you a world football idol. Brazil loves you! The real fans – the ones who are in favour – need your goals, dribbles, boldness and joy! Celebrate the love that comes from most of your country. You will bounce back! And may all the hate turn into fuel."

Neymar hobbled off in the 80th minute of Brazil's 2-0 win against Serbia on Thursday, with medical staff announcing he sustained a lateral ligament injury to his right ankle.

The former Barcelona forward was fouled nine times in the Serbia game, the most suffered by any player in a single game so far at the World Cup.