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Colombian who broke Neymar and Brazil’s hearts retires


Bogota (AFP) – Juan Camilo Zuniga, the player who ended Brazilian superstar Neymar’s World Cup participation four years ago, announced his retirement on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old Colombian wing-back was involved in a collision with Neymar in a quarter-final match at the Brazilian World Cup in 2014 that resulted in the forward suffering a broken vertebrae.

Neymar’s World Cup was over and without their talisman Brazil suffered the humiliation of losing 7-1 to eventual champions Germany in the semi-finals.

After himself suffering two injury-plagued years, an emotional Zuniga said: “Today I’m thinking about my future, my family. I’m stepping aside so that tomorrow, when I want to to run around in the park with my children, I’ll be able to do so.”

The wing-back began and ended his career at Medellin club Atletico Nacional but spent much of his career in Italy, notably a nine-year spell at Napoli.

He spent one season in England at Watford, scoring his only goal for the Hornets against Manchester United.

But he was widely seen as the villain of the 2014 World Cup by fans of the host nation for his role in Neymar’s injury.

Brazil’s then captain Thiago Silva branded Zuniga “a coward” over the challenge, in which the Colombian’s knee made contact with Neymar’s back.

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