World Cup 2014: Brazil's Neymar makes wheelchair claim

Brazil's Neymar broke down in tears as he claimed the challenge that ended his World Cup came close to paralysing him.

The Barcelona forward, 22, fractured a vertebra in his spine when he was kneed in the back by Colombia's Juan Zuniga during Brazil's 2-1 quarter-final win.

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

Brazil went on to lose 7-1 to Germany in the semi-finals.

Neymar

Colombia defender Zuniga said there was "no intent to injure, malice nor negligence" in the challenge

World governing body Fifa said no disciplinary action could be taken against Zuniga because the incident was dealt with at the time by referee Velasco Carballo.

Neymar said Zuniga called him the next day to say sorry but the former Santos player stopped short of forgiving the Colombian for the challenge.

"I don't hate him, I don't hold a grudge, but I don't feel anything," said Neymar. "It's difficult to talk about a move that ended happening in such an important moment of my career.

Neymar's tournament-ending injury

World Cup 2014: Neymar's tournament-ending injury

"I won't say he came to injure me - I don't know what was going on in his head - but everyone who understands football can see that it wasn't a normal challenge."

Neymar left Brazil's training camp by helicopter on Saturday but returned to the mountain city of Teresopolis, near Rio, on Thursday ahead of Brazil's third-place play-off match against Netherlands on Saturday.

He said he hoped Argentina would beat Germany in Sunday's World Cup final because Barcelona club-mates Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano play for the Argentines.

On Messi, he added: "He's won almost everything and I think he deserves to be champion. He is my team-mate and my friend."

Neymar at the World Cup

Matches played

5

Minutes played

457

Attempts on target

72.2%

Goals scored

4

Assists

1

Neymar is carried off on a stretcher

Neymar was the first Brazilian to be involved in five goals in one World Cup since 2002

Neymar

Neymar was airlifted home from Brazil's training camp in Teresopolis near Rio de Janeiro on Saturday

Neymar

Neymar returned to Brazil's training base on Thursday