World Cup: Brazil's Neymar blessed not to be in wheelchair after Zuniga challenge
Last Updated: 11/07/14 11:36am
An emotional Neymar cried as he recalled the challenge that ended his World Cup on Thursday 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.
"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 Sunday'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."