• World Cup 2022

‘I was very scared’ – Neymar reveals struggle with World Cup injury

Neymar, Richarlison at Brazil
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The Paris Saint-Germain star missed Brazil’s last two Group E matches upon suffering an ankle injury in the World Cup opener.

Neymar feared the worst after coming down with an ankle injury at the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The 30-year-old suffered the injury late into Brazil’s 2-0 win over Serbia in their Group E opener. He subsequently missed the next two group games, leaving his participation for the rest of the tournament in doubt.

However, just 11 days later, Neymar made a goalscoring return in Monday’s 4-1 win against South Korea in the Round of 16, thus securing Tite’s side passage into the World Cup quarter-finals.

“I was very scared,” Neymar said in his post-match interview at Stadium 974.

“I was doing well after a positive start to the season, so suffering an injury like the one I had was very hard. I spent the night crying a lot. But everything worked out in the end; the effort was worth it. All suffering is valid.

“I’d like to thank god for the strength I’ve been given to be back on the pitch, to train and do everything I needed to be on the pitch again. Thanks also to the physios, my colleagues, and those who have encouraged me over the last days. I’m happy to be back on the pitch and playing well.”

Neymar closes in on Pele

Neymar’s 76th international goal on Monday came courtesy of a penalty kick, leaving him just one goal behind Pele in the all-time list of top scorers for the Brazilian national team.

The forward played 81 minutes on his return to the fold before Rodrygo Goes replaced him as a substitute.

Asked if he felt any pain, Neymar replied: “No I felt nothing. I was very content with my performance, but that said we can always improve. I can’t be 100 percent satisfied. I’ve been given the man of the match award today but it’s for everyone. I’m really happy with the performance of the side.”

Vinicius Junior, Richarlison, and Lucas Paqueta were also on target for Brazil against South Korea. All four Selecao goals came inside the opening 36 minutes of the game.

The five-time world champions will next face 2018 finalists Croatia in the World Cup quarter-finals on Friday.