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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Tristan Kirk

Arsenal star’s dog bit me on the arm as we posed for a selfie, claims therapist

A Premier League footballer is being sued by a therapist who says he was bitten on the arm by a guard dog at the footballer’s north London home.

Saeid Motaali, 50, claims Reiss Nelson’s dog — an Italian mastiff named Tiago — leapt at his neck and bit him hard on the arm that he put up to protect himself.

The alleged attack happened shortly after Mr Motaali finished a sports massage session with Nelson, when he stopped on the way out for a selfie with the footballer and the dog.

The therapist has brought a High Court claim against Nelson, accusing the Arsenal player of negligence and being responsible for the dog attack. He says he has been unable to work for more than three years following the incident, in 2020.

Mr Motaali claims he had been Nelson’s regular sports massage therapist for about three years in the lead-up to the incident. Motaali and Nelson, 24, were in the kitchen of the star’s £3 million home in Hadley Wood when he asked for a selfie with the footballer and the dog for his children.

Mr Motaali’s lawyer Mark Bowman said: “He took a photograph of Nelson and the dog and was in the process of taking a ‘selfie’ type picture of the dog when, as he started to turn away, the dog jumped up at him towards his neck.”

Reiss Nelson celebrates scoring a goal for Arsenal (AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Motaali says he “put his left arm up to protect himself whereupon the dog bit his left forearm” and he “yanked his arm away from the dog’s mouth” after the animal left a deep bite mark.

In the claim filed at the High Court by law firm Fieldfisher, acting on behalf of Mr Motaali, Nelson is accused of failing to control the dog, not putting him on a muzzle or a lead, and the footballer is also accused of being responsible for the actions of an animal which had been trained as a guard dog.

“The dog was being trained as a guard dog and hence had been trained to show aggression,” it is claimed. “The dog was a large powerful animal with sharp teeth and was ever likely to cause severe damage when biting a person.”

Mr Motaali says Nelson took hold of the dog after the bite, while he himself “escaped” into the bathroom.

A claim has been lodged against Nelson, seeking damages, accusing him of negligence, and alleging liability for the accident under the Animals Act 1971.

Nelson’s defence to the claim is not yet available to the public. His legal team have been contacted for comment.

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