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)
  • Youthful England will learn from failure - Hart

    Youthful England will learn from failure - Hart

    (Reuters) - Goalkeeper Joe Hart has urged the youngsters in the England squad to learn from the experience of their humiliating exit to Iceland at the Euro 2016 championship on Monday. England's 50-year wait for their first major trophy will … More »

    Reuters - 23 minutes ago
  • Iceland stun England as Euro dream continues

    Iceland stun England as Euro dream continues

    By Mitch Phillips NICE, France (Reuters) - Iceland pulled off one of the biggest shocks in European Championship history when they stunned abject England 2-1 on Monday, leading Roy Hodgson to quit and sending the tiny nation into a quarter-final … More »

    Reuters - 25 minutes ago
  • Messi fails to match Maradona success in Argentina shirt

    Messi fails to match Maradona success in Argentina shirt

    They were two small Argentina players with the same enormous challenge -- to meet the expectations of a soccer-mad country. Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi have both proved themselves to be skilful giants on the world soccer stage despite their … More »

    Reuters - 46 minutes ago
  • England manager Hodgson resigns after Euro 2016 exit

    England manager Hodgson resigns after Euro 2016 exit

    By John Geddie NICE, France (Reuters) - England soccer coach Roy Hodgson's four-year reign came to an abrupt end after their shock 2-1 defeat by tiny Iceland at the Euro 2016 round of 16 stage on Monday. Hodgson, 68, wasted little time in … More »

    Reuters - 3 hours ago
  • British media call Iceland loss worst in English history

    British media call Iceland loss worst in English history

    England's soccer journalists left their readers with no illusions on Tuesday after their side's Euro 2016 hopes were crushed by Iceland, describing the 2-1 loss as the worst in their history. Goals from Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson … More »

    Reuters - 3 hours ago