Ex-footballer ‘stopped knifeman’ who stabbed Arsenal star in shopping centre attack

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Arsenal footballer Pablo Mari has spoken after being stabbed during an attack in an Italian supermarket that left one man dead.

Speaking on Thursday after the incident, he told Italian media: “Today I was lucky, because I saw a person die in front of me.”

A male supermarket cashier, thought to be in his 30s, was killed in the attack, according to Sky Italy. Three other people were taken to hospital and one was injured but did not require treatment.

Mari, 29, was shopping with his wife and son at the Assago shopping centre near Milan when a man attacked six people with a knife from the shelves on Thursday.

He suffered knife wounds and was taken to hospital where he is understood to be conscious, in a non-serious condition, and awaiting surgery to reduce muscle damage to his back.

He is currently on loan at Serie A side Monza.

The 46-year-old suspect, believed to be suffering from mental health problems, was arrested.

Local media reported that the knifeman was stopped and disarmed by retired Inter Milan player Massimo Tarantino.

The 51-year-old, who also played for Napoli and Bologna, said he saw the suspect “scream, scream and that’s it”.

Tarantino, who has been managing teams since 2007, told reporters at the scene: “I was a hero? I didn’t do anything.”

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Massimo Tarantino in 1999
Monza's Pablo Mari' celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Monza and Spezia, at the U-Power Stadium in Monza, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. Pic: AP
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Pablo Mari

Mari’s father’s ‘heart nearly failed’

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Mari’s father, also called Pablo, spoke to Spanish radio station Cadena Cope about the moment he discovered his son had been injured.

“I didn’t know anything. I wasn’t watching TV or anything and family members started calling over and over… and my heart nearly failed,” he said.

After speaking to his daughter-in-law, who witnessed the attack along with his grandson, he added: “It was all just a fright and not much more… and she saw someone die in front of her.”

An injured person on a stretcher at the scene of an attack in Milan, Italy, Thursday Oct. 27, 2022. A man armed with a knife stabbed five people inside a shopping center south of Milan on Thursday. (LaPresse via AP)

Commenting on Mari’s condition, Monza’s chief executive Adriano Galliani was quoted by Sky Sports Italy as saying: “Pablo Mari had a fairly deep wound on his back, which fortunately did not touch vital organs such as the lungs or others.

“His life is not in danger, he should recover quickly.”

A screen grab taken from a video shows the site where several were injured, including Monza's football player Pablo Mari, after a stabbing incident in Assago, near Milan, Italy
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Exterior view of the shopping centre near Milan

Player ‘saved due to his height’

He said Mari was punched in the face before being stabbed in the back but he was “saved” due to his 6ft 4in height.

Mari is recovering at the Niguarda hospital and told Galliani he wants to be back in training on Monday.

Arsenal FC said: “We are all shocked to hear the dreadful news about the stabbing in Italy, which has put a number of people in hospital including our on-loan centre-back Pablo Mari.

“We have been in contact with Pablo’s agent who has told us he’s in hospital and is not seriously hurt.

“Our thoughts are with Pablo and the other victims of this dreadful incident.”

Investigators have ruled out terrorism and are keeping the suspect in custody.

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