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Dirty Tackle

Neymar tearfully discusses 'the worst week of his life' and his hope that Messi wins the World Cup

Dirty Tackle
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(Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

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Neymar returned to Brazil's training center after spending several days recovering from his back injury at home. While his teammates prepared for the cruel chore that is Saturday's third-place match against the Netherlands, Neymar, wearing his Brazil shirt autographed by the other players, gave a press conference in which he discussed what he described as "the worst week of his life."

On the subject of the knee to the back from Colombia's Carlos Zuniga during Brazil's quarterfinal win that fractured a vertebra in his back and ended his World Cup, Neymar said that Zuniga later called him to apologize and that he forgave him.

From The Associated Press:

''I don't know if he was trying to hurt me, but if you understand football you know that it was not a normal challenge,'' Neymar said. [...]
''If it had been 2 centimeters to the center...,'' he said, struggling to stay composed. ''I could be in a wheelchair.''

Watching Brazil's semifinal against Germany from home, a horrified Neymar reportedly turned off the TV when the Germans scored their seventh goal in the 79th minute of a match that ended 7-1 to bring a crushing end to Brazil's dream of finally winning the World Cup on home soil. Now, with Germany facing Brazil's fiercest rival, Argentina, in the final, Neymar says he's rooting for his two Barcelona teammates — Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano — to lift the trophy. Even if they do play for Argentina.

''I'm not cheering for Argentina, I'm cheering for my teammates,'' he said.
''He deserves to be a world champion,'' he said. ''I'm Messi Football Club.''

Before the press conference, Neymar had an emotional visit with his teammates on the training ground as fans screamed for him in the background. Here's video of that and his tearful press conference.

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