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Rediff.com  » Sports » It wasn't a normal challenge, says an emotional Neymar

It wasn't a normal challenge, says an emotional Neymar

July 11, 2014 08:41 IST

It wasn't a normal challenge, says an emotional Neymar

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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 defender 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 team's traumatic 7-1 semi-final defeat by Germany.

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Image: Neymar attends and speaks during a press conference
Photographs: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

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Neymar cries as he recalls Zuniga challenge

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"I won't say he came to injure me, I don't what was going on in his head but everyone who understands football can see that it wasn't a normal challenge," Neymar told reporters at Brazil’s base camp just outside Rio de Janeiro.

"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," he added.

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Image: Neymar attends and speaks during a press conference in Teresopolis, Brazil. Neymar apparently broke down in tears as he explained to the media that he was relieved the recent accident which reportedly broke a vertebrae in his back did not leave him paralysed.
Photographs: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

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Zuniga called to apologise

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"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," Neymar said, breaking down in tears. "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.

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Image: Neymar arrives during a training session of the Brazilian national football team at the squad's Granja Comary training complex, on July 10, 2014 in Teresopolis
Photographs: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

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'I don't hold a grudge'

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

Brazil will play the Netherlands in Saturday's third-place playoff and Germany face Argentina in the final on Sunday.


Photographs: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

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