Neymar reveals wheelchair fear

LONDON - An emotional Neymar cried as he recalled the challenge that ended his World Cup and said he felt blessed not to have ended up in a wheelchair.

Colombia's Juan Zuniga kneed the Brazil forward in the back in the closing stages of the hosts' 2-1 quarter-final victory, ruling him out of the tournament before the host team's 7-1 semi-final defeat by Germany.

"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 said.

"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.

"Many of you say I am a diver and I don't care that you say that. I can defend myself when I can see what's going on around me.

"But I can't defend myself from what comes from behind. What defends me in that situation is the rules and I couldn't defend myself from that and I was injured.”

Neymar says he was two centimetres away from potentially being paralysed by the back injury that ruled him out of the World Cup.

"God blessed me," a tearful Neymar added. "If it had been another two centimetres I could be in a wheelchair today."

Neymar said Zuniga called him the next day to apologise but he stopped short of forgiving his rival for the challenge.

"I don't hate him, I don't hold a grudge," Neymar said. "But I don't feel anything."

Neymar also revealed he will support Brazil's biggest rivals Argentina in tomorrow's World Cup final against Germany.

He said he wanted Barcelona team-mates Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano to win football's biggest prize, even if many of his compatriots will be surprised at his open support for their neighbours.

"I always said I wanted Argentina to get to the final because Brazil would be there but it never worked out like that," he said.

"I still want them there because my two team-mates are there, Messi and Mascherano, and I hope they win.

"Messi's won almost everything and I think he deserves to be champion and I am cheering for him to be champion." – Sky Sports

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