A tearful Neymar struggled to contemplate what might have been if the tackle which ended his World Cup had been the tackle which ended his career.
The 22-year-old Brazilian wonder-kid fractured vertebra when he was maliciously kneed in the back by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga in Brazil’s 2-1 Quarter Final win.
“God blessed me” – the simple words which echoed the press room as Neymar tried to tell the media the story.
“If it had of been another 2cm I could be in a wheelchair today” said Neymar as he stunned silence into the room. The sudden realisation floods ones mind as it allows us to take in the severity of the situation. Football is just a game, as much as we hate to believe it. Sometimes, circumstances take place in which we must take a step back and remember that our reality will not be on the pitch for all of our lives.
Neymar was 2cm away from paralysis. At 22, no-one could imagine the destruction that would have evoked upon that young man’s life – with all the footballing potential he possessed. It would count for nothing.
Football is an art, it is the beautiful game, its infectious and thrilling. But it isn’t wholesome or full-filling – we are left wanting more each time. Never satisfied.
I love football. More than most things – but there comes a point when people need to realise that it is just a game.
I think Neymar knows how blessed he is.
Goals aren’t a matter of life and death: but 2cm is.
That’s the reality of it.
By Oliver Baines | July 11th, 2014