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It is now 36 years since the once most feared footballer throughout Europe,Jean-Pierre Adams went into a coma after a horrifying hospital mix up.

Born in Senegal in 1948, Adams was a “flamboyant” character and defender who moved to France with his grandmother when he was only ten-years old.

An extraordinary man with an extraordinary tale to tell was capped 22 times by the France national team.

Adams, according to a documented research became one of the  first black players to star for the country just two years after his “first professional” contract with  First Division side Nimes.

But if you were to whisper his name outside of his home nation of France, people wouldn’t bat an eyelid as generations have come and passed forgetting the 70-year old icon who is now incapable of nearly all voluntary movement but can digest food as well as open and close his eyes.

An disastrous knee operation in 1982 during a hospital strike made an overworked anaesthetist place a tube inside Adams that horrifyingly blocked a pathway to his lungs.

From that point Adams’ brain was so starved of oxygen he suffered ‘catastrophic’ brain damage.

Today the former footballer’s eyes remain open even when he is asleep and it is only a handful of friends who are always on his bedside as they know he will succumb to a tragic fate unless he is looked after.

As profiled by Outsideoftheboot.com Adams started his career as a second striker for the youth teams of US Cepoy, CD Bellegarde and USM Montargis,

He then joined semi-professional RC Fontainebleau in 1967 when he was aged just 19; quickly persuaded into dropping back into defence by the coaches, he helped the club win the Championnat de France Amateur (4th division) twice before signing professional terms with Ligue 1 club, Nimes Olympique, in 1970.

During his three years stint with the club he helped his side to a best-ever 2nd place as they secured UEFA Cup football for the following year with 21 wins, 76 goals and a goal-difference of +39.

Between 1973 and 1977 he played for Nice, again in Ligue 1, during a phase of ambition for the club – having been relegated from the top-division in the 1968-69 season with a measly 21 points, they were out to prove a point and nearly succeeded in bringing Jairzinho to the club.

Adams got call-up to the France Football’s team of the 1975-76 season and after his first game for Les Bleus, ex-France manager Henri Michel called him a ‘force of nature, very strong physically, who had great determination and willingness.’

The following season would prove to be his best ever with Nice running Saint-Etienne close but eventually finished 2nd in the league with their failure to claim the title put down, in large parts, to an onslaught of injuries across the team – unfortunately, though, Adams was to be slain at this peak as during the season he was one of those to suffer from such issues and his time at the club came was to draw to an unfortunate close.

The last words of Jean Pierre Adams before his operation were intended for his wife, “All is well, I’m in great shape. It is at 11H that I will be operated. Think of me anyway, but pick me up in a week, and do not forget then, a pair of crutches! ”

It was March 17, 1982 … And as long as there is life the footballing world hasn’t lost hope as sheer incredible strength of humanity.

 

A lover of African football who boasts experience in journalism, having previously worked at Brand Agenda Publications, East Africa University News and University Post in Uganda before moving to Soka25east.com. On Twitter @fgchuma

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