BARCELONA: Neymar has learned important lessons from his 2014 World Cup heartbreak as he targets redemption in the coming year.
Brazil’s captain has reiterated that a back injury suffered during his team’s 2-1 World Cup quarterfinal victory over Colombia in July was one of the “worst moments” of his life.
Neymar was ruled out of the tournament with a fractured vertebra after clashing with Colombia’s Camilo Zuniga late in the match in Fortaleza.
The hosts were eliminated from the World Cup four days later when they crashed 7-1 to eventual winners Germany in Belo Horizonte.
“It was a year of lessons, happiness and sadness,” the Barcelona forward said during the opening of his Neymar Jr Institute for underprivileged children.
“It was an excellent World Cup from a certain point of view. But then I got injured and that was one of the worst moments of my life.”
Neymar has already scored 16 goals from 19 matches in all competitions for Barcelona this season.
He has also shone for Brazil since replacing Thiago Silva as captain in September.
He scored all four goals in the 4-0 victory over Japan in October and added a brace in a 4-0 rout of Turkey in November.
Neymar will be his team’s central figure at the Copa America in Chile next June and July.
“That (World Cup disappointment) has come and gone. This season has gone well and I hope it continues,” Neymar told reporters.
Located in the 22-year-old’s home town of Praia Grande, in Sao Paulo state, the Neymar Jr Institute provides sports and academic facilities for children aged seven to 14 from low-income families.
“This is a giant door giving people opportunities in the neighborhood, opportunities that maybe I didn’t have,” Neymar said.
“The main objective is football. We are making children happy and passing on a message that every one is capable of deciding their future.”