UK & World News

  • 11 July 2014, 13:04

Neymar: I Was Centimetres From A Wheelchair

World Cup poster boy Neymar has revealed he came within centimetres of being left in a wheelchair.

The Brazilian was ruled out of the competition with a fractured vertebrae following a challenge from Colombia defender Juan Zuniga in the quarter-finals.

At one point, the 22-year-old could not feel his legs.

But in his first news conference since the incident, a tearful Neymar explained that it could have been much worse.

"I thank God for helping me, because if that blow had been two centimetres lower I would have risked being paralysed," said the Barcelona star.

"Zuniga called me a few days later to apologise and to tell me that he did not intend to hurt me. I accept his apology, but I cannot consider that a normal action.

"I cannot say whether it was intentional, but everyone knows it wasn't normal. The way he came in, behind me, I couldn't defend myself."

Neymar looked on helplessly as his countrymen were thrashed 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals.

He said: "What has happened is inexplicable. But even at 6-0, 7-0 down, they did not give up, they kept running, kept trying.

"I'm not ashamed to be Brazilian and I'm not ashamed to be part of this team. I am proud of every one of my teammates."

Neymar also distanced himself from a Twitter rant by his agent, Wagner Ribeiro, who accused Brazil national coach Luiz Felipe Scolari of "being an old jerk, arrogant, repulsive, conceited and ridiculous".

Neymar said: "Scolari should stay as coach. I do not agree with what my agent Ribeiro said. He doesn't speak for me - only my father can speak on my behalf."

Meanwhile, Brazil's sports minister Aldo Rebelo has called for an inquiry to find out the "root causes of the disaster" after the 7-1 defeat.

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