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Neymar Says He Almost Lost Ability to Walk from 2014 World Cup Back Injury

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2017

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 5: Neymar #10 of Brazil reacts after hitting the pitch after falling over Carlos Valdes #23 (not pictured) of Columbia during a friendly match on September 5, 2014 at Sun Life Stadium Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Brazil defeated Columbia 1-0. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Neymar said the back injury he suffered during the 2014 FIFA World Cup was the "worst moment" of his career and nearly cost him the ability to walk.

The Brazil international made the revelation while former Barcelona team-mate Gerard Pique interviewed him for the The Players' Tribune.

The injury occurred after a challenge from Juan Camilo Zuniga during the Selecao's 2-1 win over Colombia in the quarter-final, and Neymar described the immediate and intense pain to Pique:

"But I couldn't manage to lift my legs. I couldn't move my legs. And the doctor took me out and I started to … to cry. Because it was very painful and I didn't feel anything. I didn't feel my legs, so I went to the hospital that's in the stadium. And there they left me and I remember that I was with my leg bent like this, and when I stretched it out…"

It ended Neymar's tournament, with Brazil losing 7-1 to Germany in the last four without their attacking talisman. Neymar returned during the 2014/15 season to help Pique and Barca win a treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League titles.

The forward left the Camp Nou this summer to join Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record transfer, but he still remembers how things could have turned out differently if his injury had taken another turn.

Neymar recounted how doctors gave him a scary yet positive prognosis after telling him he couldn't finish out the World Cup: "The good one is that afterward you will be able to walk, because two centimeters to the side…football is over for you."

Zuniga was involved in the tackle that left Neymar fearing for his career.
Zuniga was involved in the tackle that left Neymar fearing for his career.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

However, only a brief stay in hospital followed, with Neymar revealing he watched his nation's historic semi-final defeat from his own home after being discharged in a wheelchair.

Neymar was lucky to escape life-altering consequences from his injury. His good fortune has also been football's gain, as the 25-year-old has since strengthened as a player. He is now a prolific, classy finisher, as well as a creative force who can enliven any match with his flair.

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