Emotional Neymar says World Cup dream 'is still alive' through Brazilian teammates

Martin Rogers
Yahoo SportsJuly 5, 2014

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BRASILIA – Injured superstar Neymar fought back tears on Saturday as he sent an emotional video message to the World Cup's host nation and insisted Brazil can lift the trophy in his absence.

Neymar admitted he was devastated to have been ruled out of the rest of the tournament after sustaining cracked vertebrae in Friday's quarterfinal victory over Colombia.

However, he was adamant that Luiz Felipe Scolari's side will still go all the way even without his attacking firepower.

"My dream has not ended yet, it was suspended due to an [incident]," Neymar said, referring to his collision with Colombia's Juan Camilo Zuniga. "But it is still alive. I am sure my teammates will make sure I can achieve my dream, which is to be a champion.

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"Another dream of mine was to play in the World Cup final, but I won't be able to do that now. However, I am sure that my colleagues will win and be champions along with me. We, the Brazilian people, will be celebrating this achievement."

The 22-year-old was on course to become the star of the tournament, having scored four goals and played an instrumental role in Brazil's run to the semifinals.

Brazil's Neymar gives a victory sign to the camera on Saturday, one day after suffering a cracked vertebrae. (AP)
Brazil's Neymar gives a victory sign to the camera on Saturday, one day after suffering a cracked vertebrae. (AP)

His injury turned Brazil from being a favorite to beat Germany in Belo Horizonte's Estadio Mineirao on Tuesday to a slight underdog, but Neymar's presence in the World Cup is still being felt.

Even during Argentina's quarterfinal victory over Belgium on Saturday, the Barcelona star's influence was apparent with Brazilian fans in the Estadio Nacional repeatedly chanting his name while Argentina supporters tried to drown them out.

Argentina head coach Alejandro Sabella took the rare move of drawing a soccer truce between the two hated rivals to wish Neymar a swift recovery, saying he wanted to send him "a hug."

The Neymar injury could go either way. Certainly, his mastery on the field will be sorely missed by a Brazil team that does not have as much natural talent as some of its magnificent predecessors.

However, Scolari will try to rally the team behind Neymar, urging them to win it for him. That was why the coach welcomed the forward back into camp on Saturday afternoon, albeit in a wheelchair.

Neymar has been flooded with support from fans in Brazil and around the world, and, if possible, there were even more of his jerseys on display than normal on the streets of Brazil cities the day after his dramatic World Cup run came to a disappointing end.

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"Brazilian people, players, coaches and fans – this is a very tough moment," Neymar said in his message. "It is hard to express my thoughts in words.

"I want to tell you that I'll be back to the field as soon as possible. I would like to thank you for your support and affection expressed through the messages that have been sent to me."

Now a passionate country, where it is often said soccer is like religion, hopes that Neymar's own message back to them – that Brazil can still win – will come true.

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