Brazil star Neymar says his World Cup may be over because of a fractured vertebra but his dream of celebrating the title with his teammates at the Maracana Stadium next Sunday is still alive.
In a video released by the Brazilian football confederation on Saturday, Neymar thanked fans for the support in his “very difficult moment.”
“I don’t have words to describe what has been going through my head and my heart,” said Neymar, sporting a subdued look on his face. “I just want to say that I will be back as soon as possible. When you least expect I’ll be back.”
“My dream is not over yet,” he said. “It was interrupted by one move, but it will continue and I’m certain that my teammates will do whatever possible so I can fulfill my dream of being a champion. I won’t be able to fulfill the dream of playing in a World Cup final, but I’m sure they will win this one, they will become champions, and I will be there with them, and all of Brazil will be celebrating.”
It was the first time Neymar had spoken publicly since fracturing a vertebra late in Brazil’s 2-1 win over Colombia in the quarterfinals on Friday.
The 22-year-old Neymar broke his third vertebra after being kneed in the back by Colombian player Juan Camillo Zuniga in the 86th minute. Doctors said he will not need surgery but is expected to be sidelined for at least four weeks.
Zuniga sent a letter of apology to Neymar, saying he is “deeply sorry and sad” for causing the injury that knocked the Brazil striker out of the World Cup.
“Although I feel the situation was normal in a game, there was no bad intention, malice or negligence on my part,” Zuniga said in a statement released by the Colombian team.
“I admire you, respect you and consider you one of the best players in the world,” Zuniga wrote. “I hope you recover and return quickly.”
Brazil great Ronaldo told a news conference Saturday that he thought “the injury was a very violent one,” and added: “We could see on television there was an intention by the Colombia player to actually cause harm.”
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