Brazil star Neymar ‘could have been paralysed’ if he had been hit in the back one inch higher during his team’s 2-1 World Cup quarter-final win over Colombia on Friday.
The 22-year-old was stretchered off in the 88th minute in tears after he had been kneed from behind by Juan Zuniga – in a challenge that the Colombia player did not receive any punishment for.
Team doctor, Rodrigo Lasma, told Brazilian TV afterwards that Neymar had fractured his vertebra in his spine and would miss the rest of the tournament although he wouldn’t require surgery for the injury.
Doctors in Brazil also said that if the Barcelona forward had been hit by Zuniga an inch higher, he might have been paralysed.
Zuniga himself said that he had ‘never meant to hurt’ Neymar, who bows out of the World Cup with four goals to his name.
Brazil will now have to face Germany in the semi-finals without Neymar and captain Thiago Silva, who will be out of the tie with suspension.