What's Buzzing:

Neymar thankful he's not in a wheelchair now

AP - Sports
Your Top Plays for Today
.

View gallery

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) -- Neymar became emotional when talking Thursday about the injury that ruled him out of the World Cup, saying that if the knee to his back had been slightly more to one side he ''could be in a wheelchair'' right now.

The Brazil striker cried as he recalled the injury, saying ''God blessed'' him and prevented a more serious injury. Neymar had to stop talking for several seconds, lowering his head and putting a hand in front of his eyes.

''It's difficult to talk about a move that (happened) in such an important moment of my career,'' he said.

Neymar fractured his third vertebra when defender Juan Camilo Zuniga hit him from behind in a challenge late in the quarterfinal match against Colombia.

''If it had been 2 centimeters to the center...,'' he said, struggling to stay composed. ''I could be in a wheelchair.''

The 22-year-old striker complained about Zuniga's challenge, although he said the Colombian called to apologize.

''I don't know if he was trying to hurt me, but if you understand football you know that it was not a normal challenge,'' Neymar said. ''I can't protect myself when I'm not facing the play. The only thing that can protect me from someone coming from behind are the rules. I couldn't protect myself and I ended getting hurt.''

Neymar had been recovering at home but returned to the team's training camp on Thursday. He will travel with the squad to Brasilia to support them in the third-place match against the Netherlands on Saturday.

Neymar said the injury led to ''the worst week of his life,'' one that culminated - in his absence - with Brazil's 7-1 thrashing by Germany in the semifinals. He said he didn't know how to explain what happened, and that it would be ''unfair for this group'' to be remembered by that result alone.

''It would have been all right to lose, but not like this. It was unbelievable, inexplicable,'' Neymar said. ''I don't have the words to explain what happened.''

He said the loss was ''part of football,'' and that he thought Brazil had the potential to rebound and win the next World Cup.

''We can't lower our heads,'' he said. ''It will hurt for a long time, but better days will come.''

He wished luck to Germany and Argentina in Sunday's final, but said he hopes the South Americans will come out on top. He plays at Barcelona with Argentina stars Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano.

''I'm not cheering for Argentina, I'm cheering for my teammates,'' he said.

Neymar said that it would be good for football to have Messi winning a world title.

''He deserves to be a world champion,'' he said. ''I'm Messi Football Club.''

---

Follow Tales Azzoni at https://www.twitter.com/tazzoni

View Comments (19)
  • Kashima keeps pressure on Kawasaki in J-League

    TOKYO (AP) -- Shoma Doi scored twice as Kashima Antlers thrashed Ventforet Kofu 4-0 on Sunday to keep the pressure on J-League leaders Kawasaki Frontale. … More »

    AP - Sports - 8 minutes ago
  • French prosecutor considering Qatar 2022 World Cup investigation

    French prosecutor considering Qatar 2022 World Cup investigation

    French financial authorities are considering investigating how Qatar was awarded the 2022 soccer World Cup, financial prosecutor Eliane Houlette said on Sunday. "We are thinking about it, we have several elements that encourage us to investigate," … More »

    Reuters - 9 minutes ago
  • Promoted Hull City subject to takeover talk

    Promoted Hull City subject to takeover talk

    Potential purchasers of Hull City will have to dig considerably deeper into their pockets after the club secured their Premier League return by winning what was billed as the most lucrative game in world soccer. Manager Steve Bruce dedicated the … More »

    Reuters - 50 minutes ago
  • Tens of thousands welcome Madrid back home after CL title

    Tens of thousands welcome Madrid back home after CL title

    Tens of thousands of fans endured the rain to greet Real Madrid players as they returned home early Sunday from their triumph in the Champions League final. Many waited all night after celebrating the team's win over crosstown rival Atletico Madrid … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 15 minutes ago
  • Zidane assured place in Real hearts if not a long future

    Zidane assured place in Real hearts if not a long future

    By Richard Martin MILAN (Reuters) - In leading Real Madrid to their 11th European Cup less than five months after inheriting an unhappy team from Rafael Benitez, Zinedine Zidane has cemented his heroic status at the Bernabeu and appears to have … More »

    Reuters - 2 hours 39 minutes ago