Brazil forward Neymar says his dream of being a world champion is not over despite being ruled out of the rest of the World Cup because of a back injury.
The 22-year-old fractured a vertebra in his spine after being kneed in the back by Juan Zuniga during Brazil’s 2-1 quarter-final victory over Colombia.
The Barcelona player said his dream was “interrupted… but it continues,” adding that “I’m certain my team-mates will do everything so my dream, which is to be a champion, comes true.”
The hosts’ victory over Colombia set up a semi-final clash with Germany, but their progression was marred by
Neymar, speaking in a video released by the Brazilian Soccer Federation, added: “My dream was also to play in a World Cup final, but this time it didn’t work out.
“I am sure they will win this Cup and be champions, and I will be with them, and all Brazilians will soon be celebrating all of that.
“It’s a very difficult moment, I have no words to translate what is going through my head and my heart. I’d just like to say I will be back as quickly as possible; when you least expect it, I’ll be back.”
Brazil’s team doctor Jose Luiz Runco said there are no neurological issues and no permanent issues that may lead to future complications.
“The only thing he needs is time for the fracture to consolidate, after which he will return to the pitch,” Runco said.
The Brazil playmaker, 22, left the field in tears on a stretcher in the closing stages after taking a knee in the back from Zuniga, who has since apologised for the challenge.
He left the stadium on a drip, with another Brazil doctor, Rodrigo Lasmar, saying he had sustained a fractured vertebra that will end his World Cup.
Fifa’s disciplinary committee could take action against Zuniga for the challenge, while coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said Neymar had been “hunted” for three matches.
Crowds gathered outside Sao Carlos Hospital in Fortaleza, where he was treated before flying back to Rio with his team-mates on Friday night. He was then taken by ambulance to the team’s training camp in the mountain city of Teresopolis.