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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | DAILY REPORT : SOCCER

July 20, 1996|Reuters

Italian soccer player Christian Panucci, forced to fly home from the Games because of injury, said in Milan that last-minute luck saved him from death in the TWA airliner crash.

Panucci, who was to have captained Italy's side at the Games, said he had been advised at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to catch Wednesday's TWA flight to Paris and pick up a connecting flight to Rome.

But he realized his baggage from Atlanta had been mislaid and when he went to report the loss, staff of Italian airline Alitalia told him they had a direct flight to Milan leaving later the same day from Newark, N.J. He took that.

"Previously I couldn't stop thinking how unlucky I had been to miss out on my Olympic dream," said Panucci, a 23-year-old defender for league champions AC Milan.

"Now I can't stop thinking how lucky I was not to have caught that doomed flight."

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