For Neymar, the 2014 World Cup finals bring back painful memories.
Carrying the weight of the host nation on his shoulders, the Brazilian superstar, who was just 22 at the time, was forced to watch on as his team were thrashed 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals.
It was one of the most shocking results in the history of the World Cup - but Neymar didn’t feature because he’d suffered a nasty injury against Colombia in the previous round.
Neymar had been excellent for Brazil up until that point, scoring four goals in the group stages and netting the winning penalty in the shoot-out against Chile in the Round of 16.
But his participation in the tournament was cut short when a poor challenge from Juan Zuniga led to him suffering a fractured vertebrae.
Video: Neymar suffers nasty injury v Colombia
You can watch the incident back here…
Neymar and Pique discuss the incident
Neymar’s former Barcelona teammate, Gerard Pique, has conducted a wide-ranging interview with the South American - via The Players’ Tribune - and they discussed the incident and what happened afterwards.
It makes for fascinating reading.
So everything’s perfect and you’re almost through to the semifinals. You’re at home. It seems like you’re destined to win. The hope the whole nation has … and suddenly … who was the Colombian player?
Zúñiga tackles you from behind and your back … it happens … in that moment, what goes through your mind? The pain is….
and I remember that I had my head on the ground, and Marcelo was saying, “No, no … Get the doctors in.”
And I said, “No, no, no. I want to play.” Because I wanted to score
Oh yeah, of course. Hahaha!
Because I was crazy. Hahaha! I couldn’t turn and the doctors came in….
“How’s it going?”
“No, no, no, I’m going to to continue.”
And so on.…
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….
You couldn’t. Unbelievable pain.
Ouf … incredible pain, incredible. And then I understood that there was no way to continue.
To continue the tournament.
What doctors told Neymar
Then I went to the hospital, did the tests and all, and they told me, “I have two pieces of news. One good and one bad.”
And I was like, “The bad one first.”
“The bad one: You can’t play the World Cup. It’s over for you.”
And I’m like, “What’s the good one?”
That you can walk …
“The good one is that afterward you will be able to walk, because two centimeters to the side …”
“ … football is over for you.”
And … well … there … there I just want them to tell my family. And they were all there — my girlfriend, my dad, my sister, mom, friends. They tell them that they can see me, and well, then a whole bad week started.”
Neymar's life almost changed in that one moment
As Pique said - ‘wow’.
Neymar was told that two centimetres to the side and not only would his football career have been over, but he may not have been able to even walk again.
The Paris Saint-Germain star, who was plying his trade for Barcelona at the time, had an incredibly lucky escape from a life-changing injury.
Fortunately, Neymar went on to make a full recovery and is now optimistic of making amends for the 2014 World Cup debacle by leading his country to glory in Russia next summer.
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