MADRID (AFP) – Brazil’s star striker Neymar cried “I can’t feel my legs” after a crunch World Cup challenge by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari told Spanish sports daily Marca.
Scolari said the whole team panicked after the knee in the back tackle during Brazil’s quarter-final victory over Colombia on Friday.
Left back Marcelo was first to reach the striker, who suffered a fractured vertebrae that has ruled him out of the World Cup, after the challenge.
Marcelo knelt next to Neymar and asked how he felt, according to Scolari.
“He replied: ‘I can’t feel my legs,'” added the coach.
Marcelo shouted for the team doctor, but doctors are not allowed onto the pitch.
“Marcelo was scared and called the doctor on but the doctor couldn’t get on in the confusion. It was a big shock, the image of Neymar being stretchered off to the helicopter, in difficulty, crying,” Scolari was quoted as saying.
Team doctor Jose Luiz Runco said that Marcelo’s calls for the doctor had caused the panic after the challenge.
“We’ve lost the one player we didn’t want to lose ahead of the semi-finals and the final,” Scolari said of the “disastrous” loss.
Neymar was stretchered off in the 88th minute of the game and rushed to hospital where the fracture of the third vertebrae was confirmed.
The 22-year-old Barcelona striker has since taken a few steps but the team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar has said it will take from four to six weeks to recover.
FIFA is investigating the tackle by Zuniga who could face action. The Colombian defender has apologised but insisted he had not intended to hurt Neymar.