Soccer

Injury saves player from plane crash carrying Brazil's soccer team

Alejandro Martinuccio's years of aggravating injuries have given him something to be grateful for today — his life. An injury kept the forward from travelling with Brazil's Chapecoense soccer club to a match in Colombia, which saved him from the plane crash carrying the rest of his team.

How Alejandro Martinuccio's injury woes became his saving grace

Argentinean midfielder Alejandro Martinuccio is mourning the tragic loss of his Chapecoense teammates. (Pablo Porciuncula/Getty Images)

Alejandro Martinuccio's years of aggravating injuries have given him something to be grateful for today — his life.

The 28-year-old forward for Brazil's Chapecoense soccer club had been sidelined due to leg trouble, and wasn't able to play in the scheduled match in Colombia, considered the biggest in team history.

But the injury also saved him from the plane crash carrying the rest of his team and killing 71 people aboard. Three of his teammates survived the crash.

Earlier in the day, officials reported a higher death toll. Colombian aviation authorities later lowered the figure to 71 from 75, saying four fewer people were aboard the aircraft than originally stated, The Associated Press reported. 

According to a statement from Colombia's civil aviation agency, the survivors are:

  • Helio Hermito Zampier (Chapecoense defender).
  • Alan Luciano Ruschel (Chapecoense defender).
  • Jackson Ragnar Follman (Chapecoense goalkeeper).
  • Ximena Suárez (flight attendant).
  • Erwin Tumiri (flight technician).
  • Rafael Hensel (journalist).
Plane wreckage and debris strewn across ground following crash that killed 76 in Colombia 0:59

Stunned by the news, the Argentinean urged the public pray for his teammates.

English translation below: Pray for my companions please

 

Plagued by injury

With 32 career goals to date, Martinuccio began his professional career in the Argentine football league system in 2008. Despite a strong first few seasons, the midfielder had been troubled with injuries and was bumped around to several organizations. 

Martinuccio continued to struggle with injuries while playing for the Brazilian club Coritiba throughout his 2014 season.

The attacker underwent operations on two tibias, which kept him out for another four months and underwent knee surgery in early 2014. He also suffered from two other foot and thigh injuries, and before this year had not played professionally since November 2014.

Out the entire 2015 season, Martinuccio underwent treatment due to tibial wear in which 30-centimetre metal rods weighing over 900 grams were placed below both his knees. The rods were removed in July of last year. 

Despite his physical challenges, Chapecoense decided to take a chance on him and he was signed on April 30. His season was off to a decent start, playing in 10 games and starting in two. 

But he did not receive medical clearance to travel with the team to Colombia due to an injury that reportedly occurred more than a month ago. That injury has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

With files from The Associated Press

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