Football

Neymar confident Brazil can win World Cup without him

Injured Neymar believes his teammates can win without him

Injured Brazil star Neymar thanked fans for their support and said his teammates will do everything to keep their dreams of winning the World Cup alive.

The 22-year-old, who has been ruled out of the World Cup with a fractured vertebra, left his team's training base in Terespolis in a helicopter and headed home to Sao Paulo to recover last night.

In a video released by the Brazil football federation this morning (Singapore time), an emotional Neymar said: "My dream isn't over. It was interrupted but it continues.

"I'm certain that my teammates will do everything possible so that my dream, which is to be a champion, comes true."

The poster boy, who was hurt by Colombia's Juan Zuniga in Brazil's 2-1 quarter-final win in Fortaleza yesterday, was loaded on a stretcher into a helicopter at the Granja Comary training ground.

With his father Neymar da Silva Sr beside him, Neymar waved to the cameras before being flown to Sao Paulo. His recovery is likely to take at least a month.

Meanwhile, Fifa is investigating the incident and could take action against Zuniga for his challenge on Neymar, a Fifa spokesman said this morning.

Zuniga also faced death threats on the Internet and social media for the incident towards the end of the match, during which his knee clattered into Neymar's lower back.

'UNINTENTIONAL'

The 28-year-old defender, who plays for Italian club Napoli, insists that he did not injure Neymar intentionally.

"When I'm on the field, I always do what I have to, to defend my country and the shirt I wear, but always without intent to injure anybody," Zuniga said in a Brazilian TV interview after the game.

"It got a bit heated. There were strong tackles, but the Brazilians were doing the same. It's normal. I didn't make that challenge trying to break his spine. I was defending my country.

"It's a very sad thing. I hope, with the help of God, that it's not too serious because everyone knows he's a great talent for Brazil."

Brazilian newspapers urged the national team - who meet Germany in Wednesday's semi-final - to win the World Cup for Neymar, while some assailed Zuniga, who has become Brazil's public enemy.

The less offensive posts on the Internet called him a "monster" and the "biggest villain in the history of football".

Meanwhile, Brazil football legend Pele hopes the 2014 Selecao can emulate the 1962 side, who won the World Cup despite having him injured for most of the tournament.

Pele tweeted: "I was also injured during the 1962 World Cup in Chile, and I was out for the rest of the tournament.

"But God helped Brazil continue on to win the championship. I hope the same will happen with our Selecao in this World Cup."

Brazil won their first World Cup in 1958 and, four years later, Pele was injured in the second game against Czechoslovakia.

They won the final thanks to the dribbling skills of another legend, Garrincha.

The 1962 triumph prompted former Brazil striker Ronaldo to believe that they can still lift the trophy on July 13, even though they will also miss suspended captain Thiago Silva for the semi-final against Germany.

Said Ronaldo: "If the German team believe they're coming up against a weak, discouraged side because we lost Neymar, I think they will be making a big mistake.

"The Brazilian team were never made up and will never be made up of one single player."

- Wire Services.


I’m certain that my teammates will do everything possible so that my dream, which is to be a champion, comes true.

- Neymar

“If the German team believe they’re coming up against a weak, discouraged side because we lost Neymar, I think they will be making a big mistake.”

- Ex-Brazil star Ronaldo on their semi-final opponents Germany

World Cup