11 July 2014 02:00
An emotional Neymar feels blessed after being “two centimetres” away from ending up in a wheelchair from Juan Camilo Zuniga’s tackle.
The Brazil star wiped away tears as he described fears he would be paralysed after Zuniga kneed him in the back during Colombia’s 2-1 FIFA World Cup loss to the hosts.
Neymar, 22, said he was unable to accept the challenge which fractured his vertebra, but is grateful his career is still alive.
“I was blessed in that situation because it wasn’t more serious. Two more centimetres up and, well, I could be in a wheelchair. So it is really difficult,” he told a news conference on Thursday.
He added: “It happened at such an important point in 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.
“When you want to foul someone to stop a game or stop a counter-attack, you kick their ankles, you push, you pull, but the way the ball was falling, it wasn’t a normal game situation.”
Zuniga called Neymar to apologise the day after the game and while the Barcelona star is unforgiving, he refuses to hold a grudge.
Without Neymar and captain Thiago Silva, Brazil were embarrassed 7-1 by Germany in their semi-final.
Neymar said he wanted to see club team-mate Lionel Messi win the World Cup with Argentina, who face Germany on Sunday.
“He (Messi) has won almost everything and I think he deserves to be champion and I am cheering for him to be champion,” he said.
“He is my team-mate and my friend.”