Neymar thankful he's not in a wheelchair now

The Associated Press
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

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • West Ham's Bilic praises Sturridge before Liverpool trip

      West Ham's Bilic praises Sturridge before Liverpool trip

      (Reuters) - West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has admitted his team need to improve in front of goal and praised Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge who has been linked with a move to the Premier League strugglers. West Ham, who travel to Anfield … More »

      Reuters - 51 minutes ago
    • Atletico Nacional to honor Chapecoense at Club World Cup

      Colombia's Atletico Nacional arrived in Japan for the Club World Cup on Saturday still dealing with the trauma of the recent airplane crash that caused the cancellation of the Copa Sudamericana final. Nacional qualified for the Club World Cup by … More »

      AP - Sports - 2 hours 5 minutes ago
    • Stanford tops North Carolina on PKs, advances to NCAA final

      For the second straight season, Stanford found itself depending on penalty kicks to advance to the College Cup final. Like last season, the Cardinal came out on top. After each team converted its first nine attempts in the tiebreaker, Amir Bashti … More »

      AP - Sports - 4 hours ago
    • Toronto FC's Altidore voted US Male Player of Year, Pulisic top youngster

      Toronto FC's Altidore voted US Male Player of Year, Pulisic top youngster

      Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore has been selected the U.S. Soccer Federation's Male Player of the Year in a close vote over Bobby Wood, and 18-year-old Christian Pulisic was an overwhelming choice as Young Male Player of the Year. Altidore, a … More »

      The Canadian Press - 6 hours ago
    • Altidore named US Male Player of Year

      Jozy Altidore has been selected the U.S. Soccer Federation's Male Player of the Year in a close vote over Bobby Wood, and 18-year-old Christian Pulisic was an overwhelming choice as Young Male Player of the Year. Altidore, a 27-year-old forward who … More »

      AP - Sports - 6 hours ago