Neymar - SWC 'dream' stolen
Rio de Janeiro - Brazil football star Neymar said Saturday that his dream of playing
in the Soccer World Cup final had been stolen from him by a fractured vertebrae
inflicted by a Colombia defender.
"They took away my dream of
playing in a World Cup final, but the dream of being world champion has
not ended," Neymar said in remarks released by the Brazilian football
"There are two games left and I am sure my teammates will do everything to lift the trophy," he said.
Brazil squad applauded the 22-year-old Barcelona striker at an
emotional farewell at their Teresopolis camp before he was taken to Rio
de Janeiro by helicopter.
Neymar was ruled out of the rest of the
World Cup after Colombian defender Juan Zuniga kneed him in the back in a
challenge in Friday's quarter-final. Brazil play Germany in the
semi-finals on Tuesday.
FIFA said it is investigating the incident
to see whether disciplinary proceedings are necessary. And Zuniga again
insisted Saturday that there was no malicious intent in his challenge.
deeply regret the sad injury suffered by Neymar during the game between
Brazil and Colombia," the defender said in a letter sent to Neymar that
was quoted by the Colombian Football Federation.
"This situation resulted from normal game action and there was no ill-intent, malice or negligence on my part," Zuniga added.
was collecting the ball in the 88th minute, with his side leading 2-1,
when Zuniga launched a jumping challenge from behind and kneed the
Brazilian in the lower part of his back.
Doctors said Neymar fractured the third vertebrae in his lower back. He was stretchered off the field in agony.