Sunday 25 February 2018

Neymar: I was nearly paralysed by Zuniga

Brazil striker Neymar fought back tears as he claimed he had come within a few inches of being paralysed.

Giving his first press conference after being rushed to hospital with a fractured vertebra in the quarter-final win over Colombia, he also said he disagreed with his agent for calling coach Luiz Felipe Scolari “a repulsive and conceited old jerk”.

The 22-year-old revealed that Colombia defender Juan Zuniga had called him to say sorry for the knee in the back that initially left him unable to feel his legs. “Zuniga called me a few days later to apologise and to tell me that he did not intend to hurt me,” Neymar said. “I accept his apology, but I cannot consider that a normal action. I cannot say whether it was intentional, but everyone knows it wasn’t normal. The way he came in, behind me, I couldn’t defend myself.

“I thank God for helping me, because if that blow had been a few inches lower I would have risked being paralysed.”

Neymar distanced himself from his agent Wagner Ribeiro, who launched a bizarre outburst at Scolari. Ribeiro produced a sarcastic list of “six requirements to be Brazilian coach” including “going to Chelsea and being sacked the following day” and “being an old jerk, arrogant, repulsive, conceited and ridiculous”. Neymar said: “I don’t agree with that.”

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