Footballer still in coma 39 years after tragic hospital bungle

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Jean-Pierre Adams, pictured here playing for France.
Jean-Pierre Adams has been in a come for 39 years. Image: Twitter

The story of former football star Jean-Pierre Adams is one of absolute tragedy.

The former French international went into hospital for routine knee surgery in 1982 and has been in a coma ever since.

Born in Senegal, Adams moved to France when he was 10 and played for several French clubs including Nice and Paris Saint-Germain.

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Nicknamed “The Black Rock”, Adams also played 22 internationals for France between 1972 and 1976.

But his life took a tragic turn just one year after his retirement at 33 when he was booked into a Nice hospital for routine surgery to repair a ruptured knee ligament.

Adams was given a near-fatal dose of anaesthetic before the operation, leaving him in a vegetative state.

The 34-year-old suffered a bronchospasm, starving his brain of oxygen.

He is still in a coma to this day at the age of 73.

A court later handed the anaesthetist and a trainee one-month suspended sentences and a hefty fine.

Jean-Pierre Adams, pictured here at Paris Saint Germain in 1978.
Jean-Pierre Adams at Paris Saint Germain in 1978. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

Adams' wife remains by his side after all these years

For 39 years, Adams' wife Bernadette has remained by his side.

According to Bernadette, her husband can breathe, eat and cough on his own and doesn't need the aid of medical equipment.

“People on Facebook say he should be unplugged … But he is not plugged," Bernadette said previously.

"I just don’t have the courage to stop giving him food and water.

“He has a normal routine. He wakes up at 7, eats … He may be in a vegetative state, but he can hear and sit in a wheelchair.

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"We buy presents like a T-shirt or a jumper because I dress him in his bed - he changes clothes every day.

"I'll buy things so that he can have a nice room, such as pretty sheets, or some scent. 

"He used to wear Paco Rabanne but his favourite one stopped so now I buy Sauvage by Dior."

Former French teammate Marius Tresor reportedly hasn't visited Adams since the mishap.

“Even if Jean-Pierre woke up, he would not recognise anybody," Tresor said, according to Paris United.

"So is it worth living like this?

“If a similar thing happened to me, I told my wife not to keep me here.”

Adams and Tresor formed a formidable partnership in defence for France, with former manager Stefan Kovacs nicknaming the pair “The Black Guard”.

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