A small knee operation that would have put ex-soccer player Jean-Pierre Adams out of action for a few months.
However, a near-fatal dose of anesthetic before the procedure left the former French international in a coma.
About 39 years later, the defender is still in a long vegetative state – but is not given up by his ailing wife Bernadette.
Born in Dakar, Senegal in 1948, Adams moved to France at the age of 10 and began his professional football career with Nimes in the 1970s.
Before that, he was tough in the world of non-league play, juggling a job at a local rubber company until the Boy Scouts decided he was worth playing on.
Within a few seasons, Adams was a first regular player to help his team challenge for the championship title.
Between 1972 and 1973, the Crocodiles took second place in the First Division and reached the Coupe de France semi-finals – in a golden era for the club.
Adams, christened « The Black Rock », was first called up in France in 1972 and sold to OGC Nice before the 1973/74 season.
The middle half would spend four years on the Côte d’Azur and play 144 games for the team.
During his career, Adams would win 22 caps for Les Bleus. Between 1972 and 1976 he was regularly brought together with the French legend Marius Tresor.
The then Romanian coach of France, Stefan Kovacs, called the partnership « The Black Guard » after an impressive performance ruled out a strong Polish team.
Despite their defensive skills, this French team has not been as good in the future. It was a time of disillusionment for the national team, which did not qualify for the European Championship in 1976.
In two years in the French capital, he appeared 42 times, scored two goals and cemented his status as one of the most important players in the first decade of its existence.
The praise for his skills came from international team-mates, including legendary midfielder Henri Michel. Michel described Adams as « a force of nature, very strong, full of goodwill and determination » for Paris United.
After a short time with Mulhouse in Division 2, he ended his career with amateur FC Chalon at the age of 33 and played with the Polish striker Josef Klose, the father of the German legend Miroslav.
After a torn ligament injury, Adams checked into the Édouard Herriot Hospital in Lyon in 1982.
He was booked for routine surgery and was due to leave the hospital in the next few days.
It all went tragically wrong, however, when an anesthetist made a near-fatal mistake and gave Adams the wrong dose before surgery.
The healthy athlete suffered from bronchospasm which left his brain starved for oxygen. Adams fell into a coma at the age of 73, which he is still in today.
In the 1990s, a court ruled that both the anesthetist and the trainee received a one-month suspended sentence and a heavy fine.
did you know? Former Paris Saint-Germain player Jean-Pierre Adams has been in a coma for 39 years due to improper anesthesia received after a knee injury on March 17, 1982. The player remains in a coma to this day. 🙏 And the woman is still at his side until now. pic.twitter.com/pCP2pwbgYi
Incapable of communicating and expressing emotions, Jean-Pierre can breathe, feel, eat and cough without the aid of medical equipment and lives at home near Nimes.
« People on Facebook say it should be unplugged … but it’s not plugged in! I just don’t have the courage to stop giving him food and water, » revealed Bernadette.
« He has a normal routine. He wakes up at 7 am, eats … He may be in a vegetative state, but he can hear and sit in a wheelchair. »
The proposal to end her husband’s suffering is not one that Bernadette is entertaining. She is against euthanasia and refuses to give up Jean-Pierre.
But their stance isn’t one that former defense partner Tresor agrees with. According to Paris United, Tresor has not found the courage to visit his former teammate since the terrible incident.
He said, « Even if Jean-Pierre woke up, he wouldn’t recognize anyone. So is it worth living like this? »
« If something similar happened to me, I told my wife not to keep me here. »
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