In coma for 40 years, died today: dramatic story Jean-Pierre Adams

Jean-Pierre Adams is no more. The 73-year-old Senegalese Frenchman may not be a well-known or celebrated ex-footballer, but his story is all the more haunting.

Not least for his wife Bernadette, to whom the former French international was married for 52 years and who surrounded him with warmth every day until his deathbed. “Maybe another medical miracle will follow,” she hoped for years fervently and quietly at the same time.

Jean-Pierre Adams was in a coma for forty years after a knee surgery went terribly wrong. Today the news broke that he has passed away.

It had to be a routine knee surgery a few months after his football career was over. Just inside and outside the Edouard Herriot hospital in Lyon in 1982. But forty years later, the Dakar-born Frenchman Jean-Pierre Adams is still in a coma after the procedure went wrong.

A mistake by the anesthetist, who gave the ex-football player from who passed through Olympic Nîmes (1970-73), OGC Nice (1973-77) and PSG (1977-79) the wrong dose. Bronchospasm, due to a lack of oxygen in the brain. In the 1990s, both the anesthesiologist and his assistant were sentenced to a one-month suspended sentence and a hefty fine. Adams, for his part, would never be able to walk, talk, or move on his own again.

For forty years, the former defender was in a comatose state. But he was still treated with the loving care of his wife Bernadette. “Nobody who has ever forgotten their birthday or Father’s Day even once,” the woman told CNN, on the occasion of his 73rd birthday.

The couple lived together in the south of France, where Jean-Pierre spent his days in bed – he can still breathe without the help of the machine. “People on Facebook are telling him to pull the plug… but it’s not even plugged in! I will not stop feeding and giving him drinking. He has a normal routine, waking up around 7 am every time. Vegetative, but Jean-Pierre hears me, and he can sit in a wheelchair.”

Jean-Pierre Adams, Bernadette his wife with and his child
Jean-Pierre Adams, Bernadette his wife with and his child

“I insist that he wear different clothes every day. So he regularly receives clothes from us as a gift. Or I’ll buy things to make his room look nice or new sheets. Perfume too. He was a fan of Paco Rabanne for a long time, but his favorite fragrance fell out of the market, so now I buy it ‘Sauvage’ from Dior. That’s how he used to live. Jean-Pierre always radiated an infectious ‘joie de vivre’. Laughing, joking, going out: that’s how he lived his life. And I want him to do that now, as much as possible.”

Bernadette also gave her husband a daily bath and made sure that he always had something tasty to eat. Only when his wife was away could Jean-Pierre feel sad. “When he’s in the hands of others, the nurses tell me he’s not the same. I think he needs to recognize my voice and my sounds.”

Bernadette had long hoped that her husband would like one day miraculously become partly independent again. “His condition is not deteriorating, so who knows? Maybe there will be a medical breakthrough soon? But the more time passes, the more concerned I am of course.”

Via Nimes and Nice to PSG

At the age of ten, Adams moved to France, where he was noticed in amateur football by a scout from Nîmes in the 1970s. The boy was also working at a local rubber maker at the time. Nîmes was then still a superpower in French football that regularly competed for the title.

In the 1972-73 season, with Adams, they won the French Cup and finished second in Ligue 1. Season in which Adams, nicknamed ‘the Black Stone’, won his first squad for the French national team. Forerunner of the multicultural generations as the Haantjes know them today.

After that year, he moved to OGC Nice to play for four years and 144 matches. He would play a total of 22 times for ‘Les Bleus’ and form a strong central defense duo with Marius Trésor. After a strong match against Poland, the then French national coach Stefan Kovacs renamed the duo his ‘Black Guard’, even though France did not have a great period and failed to qualify for the 1976 European Championship, among other things.

Adams (r) with Marius Tresor. ©CNN
Adams (r) with Marius Tresor. ©CNN

At 29, Adams moved to PSG to play for two years and grow into a defensive stronghold. His golden period. After Mulhouse in the second division for a while, Adams would end his career at the age of 33 at FC Chalon, the team where Josef Klose and father of the later famous Miroslav played.

Ready to embrace a new life. He had to go under the knife for a while so that he wouldn’t suffer too much from that knee later on. Little did he know that that operation would change his life in such a dramatic way. The man is now deceased 40 years later.

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