BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Neymar became emotional when talking Thursday about the injury that ruled him out of the World Cup, saying that if the knee to his back had been slightly more to one side he "could be in a wheelchair" right now.
The Brazil striker cried as he recalled the injury, saying "God blessed" him and prevented a more serious injury. Neymar had to stop talking for several seconds, lowering his head and putting a hand in front of his eyes.
"It's difficult to talk about a move that (happened) in such an important moment of my career," he said.
Neymar fractured his third vertebra when defender Juan Camilo Zuniga hit him from behind in a challenge late in the quarterfinal match against Colombia.
"If it had been 2 centimeters to the center...," he said, struggling to stay composed. "I could be in a wheelchair."
The 22-year-old striker complained about Zuniga's challenge, although he said the Colombian called to apologize.
"I don't know if he was trying to hurt me, but if you understand football you know that it was not a normal challenge," Neymar said. "I can't protect myself when I'm not facing the play. The only thing that can protect me from someone coming from behind are the rules. I couldn't protect myself and I ended getting hurt."
Neymar had been recovering at home but returned to the team's training camp on Thursday. He will travel with the squad to Brasilia to support them in the third-place match against the Netherlands on Saturday.