Brazil star Neymar says his World Cup may be over because of a fractured vertebra but his World Cup dream of celebrating the title with his teammates at the Maracana Stadium next Sunday is still alive.
In a video released by the Brazilian football confederation on Saturday, Neymar thanked fans and everyone else for the support in this ''very difficult moment.''
''I don't have words to describe what has been going through my head and my heart,'' said Neymar, trying to stay upbeat but still sporting a subdued look on his face. ''I just want to say that I will be back as soon as possible. When you least expect I'll be back.''
Wearing a black T-shirt and a black hat turned backward, he spoke in a low tone of voice, his eyes still heavy.
''My dream is not over yet,'' he said. ''It was interrupted by one move, but it will continue and I'm certain that my teammates will do whatever possible so I can fulfill my dream of being a champion. I won't be able to fulfill the dream of playing in a World Cup final, but I'm sure they will win this one, they will become champions, and I will be there with them, and all of Brazil will be celebrating together.''
It was the first time Neymar had spoken publicly since fracturing a vertebra late in Brazil's 2-1 win over Colombia in the quarterfinals on Friday.
The video was made just before the striker was airlifted from Brazil's training camp in a medical helicopter to be treated at home for the back injury that ruled him out of the last two games of the World Cup.
Brazil doctor Jose Luiz Runco guaranteed the injury will not have long-term effects on Neymar's career and said the player could even travel to Belo Horizonte to watch the semifinal against Germany on Tuesday if he is not feeling a lot of pain.
Runco said he believes Neymar can return to action in about 45 days, and that Barcelona doctors were informed of the player's conditions from the beginning.
''He was extremely moved when I gave him the news that he was out of the World Cup,'' Runco said. ''He cried a lot, which was a natural reaction at that moment. But I told him that although his dream was being cut short, he was still a 22-year-old with a lot in front of him. It was still a 'good' type of injury.''
The 22-year-old forward was caught with a knee to the back in a challenge by Juan Zuniga late on in the Selecao's 2-1 quarterfinal win Fortaleza on Friday and was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a fractured vertebra.
Earlier, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has shed light on the genuine worry for the Barcelona forward's condition in the immediate aftermath of the clash.
"He said 'I can't feel my legs,'" the 65-year-old told Marca, revealing the details of Neymar's conversation with Marcelo on 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.
"Neymar was our benchmark, one of our references, because he is a player who makes a difference in any team. We're in a situation where we've lost something we don't want to miss, especially for the semifinal and final."
Scolari also said that Neymar, who had scored four times in the tournament prior to his injury, has requested to be in the stadium in Belo Horizonte for Tuesday's encounter with Germany and, should Brazil make it, the final too.
"He'll be with us if he can be, on the bench or in the stands," Scolari said. "We've asked this. It all depends on his state in the coming days. By his will, I've certainly felt that he will be."