World Cup - Neymar: Zuniga could have left me in wheelchair but I don't hold a grudge

An emotional Neymar cried as he recalled the challenge that ended his World Cup on Thursday and said he felt blessed not to have ended up in a wheelchair.

World Cup - Neymar: Zuniga could have left me in wheelchair but I don't hold a grudge

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Injured Brazilian national soccer team player Neymar cries during a news conference in Teresopolis, near Rio de Janeiro

Zuniga's raised-knee challenge during a rough quarter-final when Brazil beat Colombia 2-1 left Neymar with a broken vertebra and out of the hosts' humiliating 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany.

"I won't say he came to injure me, I don't what was going on in his head but everyone who understands football can see that it wasn't a normal challenge," Neymar told reporters at Brazil's base camp just outside Rio de Janeiro.

"When you want to foul someone to stop a game or stop a counter-attack, you kick their ankles, you push, you pull, but the way the ball was falling, it wasn't a normal game situation.

"Many of you say I am a diver and I don't care that you say that. I can defend myself when I can see what's going on around me," he added

"But I can't defend myself from what comes from behind. What defends me in that situation is the rules and I couldn't defend myself from that and I was injured.

"God blessed me," Neymar said, breaking down in tears. "If it had been another two centimetres I could be in a wheelchair today."

Neymar said Zuniga called him the next day to apologise: "I don't hate him, I don't hold a grudge," Neymar said. "But I don't feel anything."

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Neymar also distanced himself from comments made by his agent Wagner Ribeiro who called coach Luiz Felipe Scolari "old, arrogant and ridiculous."

"I don't agree and I don't accept what he said about Felipão," Neymar said.

Neymar also said he was still proud of his team despite the manner of their defeat to Germany.

"At 6-0, 7-0 down, they could have given up. But they kept running, kept trying. I'm proud of every one of them," he said.

"I'm not ashamed to be Brazilian. I'm not ashamed to be part of this team. I am proud of my team-mates."

Brazil will play the Netherlands in Saturday's third-place playoff and Germany face Argentina in the final on Sunday.

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