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World Cup 2014: Brazil’s Neymar makes wheelchair claim

Neymar's tournament-ending injury

Brazil star Neymar broke down in tears as he claimed the challenge that ended his World Cup could have left him paralysed.

The Barcelona forward, 22, fractured a vertebra in his spine when kneed in the back by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga during Brazil’s 2-1 quarter-final win.

Brazil lost the semi-final 7-1 to Germany. Speaking at a news conference, Neymar said: “God blessed me.

“If it had been another two centimetres I could be in a wheelchair today.”

Zuniga apologised to Neymar and Fifa said no disciplinary action could be taken because the incident was spotted and dealt with by referee Velasco Carballo on the pitch.

Neymar

Colombia defender Zuniga said there was “no intent to injure, malice nor negligence” in the challenge

Neymar said Zuniga called him the next day to say sorry but he stopped short of forgiving the Colombian for the challenge.

“I don’t hate him. I don’t hold a grudge,” said Neymar. “But I don’t feel anything.

“It’s difficult to talk about a move that ended happening in such an important moment of my career.

“I won’t say he came to injure me. I don’t what was going on in his head but everyone who understands football can see that it wasn’t a normal challenge.”

Neymar left Brazil’s training camp by helicopter on Saturday but returned to the mountain city of Teresopolis, near Rio, on Thursday ahead of Brazil’s third-place play-off match against Netherlands on Saturday.

And he revealed he hopes Brazil’s rivals Argentina beat Germany in Sunday’s World Cup final for Barcelona team-mates Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano.

On Messi he added: “He’s won almost everything and I think he deserves to be champion and I am cheering for him to be champion.

“He is my team mate and my friend.”

Neymar at the World Cup

Matches played

5

Minutes played

457

Attempts on target

72.2%

Goals scored

4

Assists

1

 

Neymar is carried off on a stretcher

Neymar was the first Brazilian to be involved in five goals in one World Cup since 2002

Neymar

Neymar was airlifted home from Brazil’s training camp in Teresopolis near Rio de Janeiro on Saturday

Neymar

Neymar returned to Brazil’s training base on Thursday

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