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NEW: Argentinian star Lionel Messi says: "I hope you recover very soon, friend!"
Neymar fractured a vertebra during Brazil's World Cup win, team doctor says
He is out for World Cup semifinal and, if Brazil beats Germany, the final
One Brazilian fan says, "It's like we have lost today"
Brazil is into the World Cup semifinals.
But its brightest star is out.
Neymar fractured his vertebra Friday night during his team’s World Cup quarterfinal win over Colombia and will miss the remainder of the football tournament, team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar told reporters after the game.
The 22-year-old got kneed in the back during a second-half collision with a Colombian player. He rolled on the ground afterward, then cried in apparent pain while being taken off the field on a stretcher.
“It’s not serious in the sense that it doesn’t need surgery, but he’ll need to immobilize it to recover,” said Lasmar, according to a story on the official website of FIFA, which runs the World Cup. “Unfortunately, he’s not going to be able to play.”
His loss is a huge blow for Brazil, which entered the World Cup with steep expectations given its traditional excellence in the sport – it has won more championships than any other country – and the fact it is hosting the tourney for the first time since 1950.
As one woman dressed in a Brazilian national team jersey told CNN on Friday night in Rio de Janeiro, “It’s like we have lost today.”
“It’s terrible, terrible. I’m so sad,” she added regarding Neymar’s injury. “But let’s go on.”
Many in Brazil still have a bitter taste from that World Cup decades ago, when the host lost in the finals to Uruguay.
It’s not like the next game would have been easy regardless. In the semifinal Tuesday, Brazil will face Germany, which is undefeated in the tournament and handily toppled France earlier Friday. The final game will take place July 13.
Neymar is not the only one unavailable for the semifinal: Thiago Silva, the squad’s captain, will also miss the game after getting his second yellow card on Friday – which automatically rules him out of his next game.
Neymar has been the face of his team in his native Brazil and around the world. He has scored four goals, more than anyone else on his team and anyone in the tournament besides Colombia’s James Rodriguez. (Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Germany’s Thomas Mueller also have four goals, like Neymar.)
A standout with the Brazilian club Santos, Neymar moved last summer to one of the world’s richest, most successful clubs in FC Barcelona.
Messi, his teammate there, was among those who offered their regrets that Neymar is out of the World Cup and their best wishes for a speedy recovery.
The legendary Argentinian posted Friday night on his Facebook page: “Neymar, I hope you recover very soon, friend!”
Read: Brazil battles past Colombia
Read: Germany haunts France yet again
CNN’s Harry Reekie, Fred Pleitgen and Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.