MILAN (AP) – Being in good physical shape helped Spanish soccer player Pablo Marí avoid life-threatening injuries in a knife attack at an Italian shopping mall, said the surgeon who operated on his injured back on Friday.
“The surgery was relatively simple. Fortunately, there were only two muscles damaged,” said Osvaldo Chiara, director of the general surgery and trauma team at Niguarda hospital in Milan. “The muscle mass (of Marí) is such that the length of the knife that was used could not pass through the rib cage and reach the lung.”
Monza, the Serie A club for which Marí plays on loan from Arsenal, said Marí is expected to spend another “two or three days” recovering in hospital.
The club added that Marí will likely need two months of rest before resuming physical activity, while Monza CEO Adriano Galliani said it will likely be three months before Marí returns to play.
The Spanish defender posted a photo of him on Instagram doing a thumbs up gesture from his hospital bed and wrote that he and his family “are doing fine despite the circumstances”.
Galliani said the squad was “in shock” and asked Serie A to postpone their next game, against Bologna, on Monday. But the league hasn’t changed the game.
Marí, 29, said he was “lucky” to survive after injuries to his back and mouth.
Five people were stabbed on Thursday and one was killed after a man grabbed a knife from a supermarket shelf, officials said.
Police arrested a 46-year-old Italian suspect in the attack on a shopping center in Assago, a suburb of Milan, Carabinieri said.
“He told me he had ‘suerte’ (luck) because, ‘today I saw someone else die,’ Galliani said after visiting Marí in the hospital on Thursday.
“He had his son in a stroller and his wife beside him. … He was probably saved by his height,” Galliani said of the 1.93-meter Marí. “He was hit in the back and then he saw this delinquent stab someone in the throat.”
Massimo Tarantino, a former footballer for Napoli and Inter Milan, was involved in the arrest of the attacker.
“He was just screaming,” Tarantino told reporters. “I did nothing. I am not a hero.”
Galliani said that Marí also had mouth injuries, possibly from grinding her teeth during the attack.
“He had two stitches on his lip and injuries to his back, which fortunately did not affect any organs,” Galliani said, adding that Marí was “sane.”
Marí’s wife was questioned by police as a witness to the attack, Galliani said.
Defender Marí has played in eight of Monza’s 11 Serie A games this season and scored the second goal in a 2-0 win over Spezia this month. He spent the second half of last season on loan at Udinese, another Italian club.
Monza, which is owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is making its debut season in the top flight.
“Pablo is a great kid,” Galliani said. “He had the strength to joke, telling me that Monday he will be on the field. Brought you well wishes from President Berlusconi and all his teammates.”
A supermarket employee died on the way to the 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 Marí, and Monza released a statement on Twitter on Friday mourning the victim of the attack.
“All AC Monza deeply share the family’s grief for the loss of Luis Fernando Ruggieri, victim of the madness that took place last night in Assago,” the club said. families.”
The motive for the attacks was unknown, but police said the man showed signs of being psychologically unstable. There were no elements to suggest terrorism.
The attack took place near the Assago Forum, an arena that is set to host figure skating and short track speed skating for the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.