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Former France footballer dies after 39 years in coma

Published : 06 Sep 2021 09:54 PM


Former France footballer Jean-Pierre Adams, who had been in a coma for 39 years, has died at the age of 73.

Adams was admitted to hospital for knee surgery in March 1982 but never regained consciousness after an error with his supply of anaesthetic.

Born in Senegal, the defender made more than 140 appearances for Nice and also played for Paris St-Germain.

In a statement, PSG said Adams' "joie de vivre, charisma and experience commanded respect".

Nice said the club would pay tribute to Adams - who won 22 caps for France between 1972-1976 - before their next home game against Monaco on 19 September.

Adams also made 84 appearances for Nimes, who said they were sending their "most sincere condolences to his loved ones and his family".

On the day of Adams' operation to repair a damaged tendon in his knee - suffered while on a coaching training camp - many staff at the hospital in Lyon were on strike.

His operation still went ahead, with the anaesthetist looking after eight patients, including Adams, at the same time. Adams was supervised by a trainee, who later said: "I was not up to the task I was entrusted with."

Between the anaesthetist and trainee, numerous errors were made, causing Adams to suffer a cardiac arrest and brain damage.

It wasn't until the mid-1990s that the anaesthetist and trainee were punished - a one-month suspended sentence and a 750 euro fine.

Adams was discharged from hospital after 15 months and had been cared for at home in Nimes by his wife, Bernadette, ever since.

Bernadette Adams is a remarkable woman, a gentle but steely soul who never once considered turning off her husband's life support machine despite his vegetative state.

For four decades, she has spent nearly every day caring for Jean-Pierre, changing his clothes, preparing his food, never forgetting to give him presents and often talking to him too.

The response was of course silence from a man once described as "larger than life" (and whose skills were highly rated by German football legend Franz Beckenbauer) yet nurses reported slight mood changes on the rare occasions Bernadette went away for a night or two.

I visited the Adams home in southern France in 2016 whereupon Bernadette explained the hospital had never apologised for an accident which she could not help thinking about every day.