I was almost paralysed, says Neymar in tears

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Brazil’s Neymar broke down in tears as he claimed the challenge that ended his World Cup came close to paralysing him.

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

“I thank God for helping me, because if that blow had been a few inches lower I would have risked being paralysed,” said Neymar.

Brazil went on to lose 7-1 to Germany in the semi-finals.

World governing body Fifa said no disciplinary action could be taken against Zuniga because the incident was dealt with at the time by referee Velasco Carballo.

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

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

He said he hoped Argentina would beat Germany in Sunday’s World Cup final because Barcelona club-mates Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano play for the Argentines.

On Messi, he added: “He’s won almost everything and I think he deserves to be champion. He is my team-mate and my friend.”

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