Physical training helped a footballer in a knife attack in Italy

MILAN — Being in top physical shape helped Spanish soccer player Pablo Mari avoid life-threatening injuries in a knife attack at an Italian shopping mall, the surgeon who operated on his injured back said Friday.

“The operation was relatively easy. Fortunately, there were only two damaged muscles,” said Osvaldo Chiara, director of the general surgery and trauma team at Niguarda Hospital in Milan. “(Marie’s) muscle mass is such that the length of the knife used could not go through the chest and hit his lung.”

Monza, the Serie A club for whom Marry plays on loan from Arsenal, said Marry should spend another “two or three days” recovering in hospital.

The club added that Mari would likely need two months of rest before resuming physical activity, while Monza chief executive Adriano Galliani said it would likely be three months before Mari could play again.

The Spain defender posted a picture of himself on Instagram giving a thumbs up in a hospital bed and wrote that he and his family were “all fine despite the circumstances”.

Galliani said the team was “in shock” and had asked Serie A to postpone their next match against Bologna on Monday. But the league didn’t change the scheme.

Marie, 29, called himself “lucky” to survive injuries to his back and mouth.

Five people were stabbed Thursday and one was killed after a man grabbed a knife from a supermarket shelf, authorities said.

Police have arrested a 46-year-old Italian suspect in the attack at a shopping center in Assago, a suburb of Milan, the carabinieri said.

“He told me he had ‘suerte’ (luck) because ‘today I saw someone else die,'” Galliani said after visiting Marie in the hospital late Thursday.

“His child was in a pram and his wife was next to him… His height probably saved him,” Galliani said of the 1.93-meter (6-foot-4) Marie. “He was hit in the back and then saw this criminal stab someone in the throat.”

Massimo Tarantino, a former Napoli and Inter player, was involved in stopping the striker.

“He was just screaming,” Tarantino told reporters. “I didn’t do anything. I’m not a hero.”

Galliani said Marie also had injuries to her mouth, possibly from grinding her teeth during the attack.

“He had two stitches on his lip and injuries on his back that fortunately did not affect any organs,” Galliani said, adding that Marie was “conscious.”

Marie’s wife has been questioned by police as a witness to the attack, Galliani said.

Mari, a centre-back, has played in eight of Monza’s 11 Serie A games this season and scored the second goal in a 2-0 win over La Spezia this month. He spent the second half of last season on loan with Udinese, another Italian club.

Monza, which is owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is playing its debut season in the top division.

“Pablo is a great kid,” Galliani said. “He had the nerve to make a joke, telling me he would be on the pitch on Monday. I brought him good wishes from President Berlusconi and all his teammates.”

A supermarket worker died on the way to hospital, according to the ANSA news agency, which said three other victims were in serious condition. Another person was treated for shock but not hospitalized, police said.

Monza coach Raffaele Palladino also visited Marie and Monza issued a statement on Twitter on Friday mourning the victim of the attack.

“All of AC Monza deeply shares the family’s pain at the loss of Luis Fernando Ruggieri, victim of the madness that happened last night in Assago,” the club said. “At this time, our thoughts are with the other injured people and their families.

A motive for the attacks is unknown, but police said the man showed signs of mental instability. There were no elements to suggest terrorism.

The attack took place near the Assago Forum, an arena set to host figure skating and short track speed skating for the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.

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