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Spurs Fan Stabbed In Rome Speaks Of Fear

The Tottenham Hotspur fan brutally attacked by masked hooligans in Italy says his assailants "came out of nowhere" and pulled him along the ground after beating and stabbing him.

Ashley Mills spoke of his fear after he was nearly killed in the attack on a popular tourist pub in downtown Rome.

"They came out of nowhere," said the 25-year-old builder from Brentwood, Essex, who was in the Italian capital to watch Spurs take on Lazio in the Europa League on Thursday night.

"I didn't see the guy that stabbed me, there were too many of them."

Mr Mills was drinking with a group of Spurs fans late on Wednesday night at The Drunken Ship pub in Rome's famed Campo de Fiori piazza when a mob of about 50 assailants, armed with sticks, iron bars and paving stones, launched a frenzied assault on the drinkers.

Lazio "Ultras" - fanatical supporters - were initially suspected of the raid, but two fans of cross-town rivals Roma have now been arrested and charged with attempted murder.

Suspicions are mounting among Italian investigators that the aggressors were far-right sympathisers drawn from both fan groups.

Mr Mills said the Spurs fans had been taken by complete surprise.

"There was a good atmosphere in the bar," he said. "Everyone from back home having a few drinks, we were having fun. And then the atmosphere changed really quickly.

"I was standing outside the bar drinking, and the next thing I know there are loads of them. It happened very quickly, I don't remember much. I remember being pulled out, along the ground, after I had been stabbed.

"I am not scared now, I was scared at the time."

Mr Mills received head wounds when he was beaten and a knife wound to the top of his right thigh, causing prolonged bleeding from his femoral artery.

The next thing he remembers is waking up at Rome's San Camillo hospital, where his groin wound, considered life-threatening by doctors, was operated on, while his head wound was treated with stitches.

A statement issued by the hospital said Mr Mills remained in a serious condition and would be kept under observation "for a few days".

He has been cheered up by three friends who have travelled to Rome to see him.

"The pain in the groin can be intense - I think I may have been stabbed there more than once," he said, adding that the pain had kept him awake on Thursday night.

Mr Mills, who grew up in Tottenham, north London, had travelled to the game with his brother Bradley Mills, a 30-year-old interior designer who was in the bar and was also injured.

His trip to Rome was his first to see Spurs play abroad. "I am a lifetime fan and I have never seen trouble before - I would not have come if I knew this was going to happen," he said.

But, he added, he was determined to travel abroad again to see his team.

"It's a one-off, and now I want to get out of here as soon as possible and put this behind me."

Meanwhile, the president of the Italian Football Association (FIGC) has sent a letter of apology to English FA chairman David Bernstein following the attack.

FIGC president Giancarlo Abete said in a statement: "Once again, football has given a handful of delinquents the excuse to take out their racist and anti-semite anger.

"The city authorities and I publicly express our firm condemnation, with my personal indignation at these events.

"I beg you to send our apologies to all Tottenham's fans - and in particular to those families directly involved."