IL forward Neymar believed he had been left paralysed by the challenge that broke a bone in his back and prematurely ended his World Cup, the team’s coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has revealed.
The inspirational Barcelona star told team-mate Marcelo that he felt numb from the waist down after being sent sprawling by Juan Zuniga in Friday’s hard-fought 2-1 quarter-final win over Colombia.
Neymar, who scored four in five games to help set up the hosts with a clash against Germany tomorrow, was diagnosed with a fractured vertebra and has been ruled out of action for a month.
The 22-year-old felt well enough to post an upbeat video message online 24 hours after the match, though Scolari recalled the player’s mood had been far more sombre after Zuniga’s tackle.
“He said ‘I can’t feel my legs’,” Scolari said. “Marcelo was scared and called the doctor on but the doctor couldn’t get on because he wasn’t allowed. There was a lot of confusion. It was a big shock – the image of Neymar being stretchered off to the helicopter, crying.”
Neymar used his video message to reflect on “a difficult time”, but urged his colleagues to go on and lift the trophy.
“My World Cup has not ended,” he said. “It has been interrupted by a play, but the tournament goes on and I told my team-mates to help me to be a world champion.”