Jean-Pierre Adams: A Passion Turned Legacy, To A Sleep That Lasted For 39 Years

Leaving Senegal at a young age, Jean Pierre Adams— was so passionate about football which eventually led him to great accolades until he slips into a coma due to what is term as a “medical error.”

Football fans and authorities are mourning the death of a former French international player who paved the way for French African footballers after spending 39 years in a coma.

Born in Senegal, Jean-Pierre Adams— passed on at the Nimes university hospital on Monday 6th September 2021.

Adams, whose wife and two sons survive, became an iconic legend in football, making 22 appearances for France. Following an anesthetics-related error in 1982 by hospital staff in Lyon, Adams’s “brain was starved of oxygen which led him to slip into a coma.”

Tributes including from Adams’s former clubs Nimes, PSG, and Nice have followed since the announcement of his death on Monday.
Making 84 appearances for Nimes, the club expressed their “most sincere condolence to his loved ones and family.”
PSG released a similar statement adding that Adams “joie de vivre, charisma and experience commanded respect.”

The journey

With Senegalese roots, Adams was adopted by a French family after his grandmother took him to Europe for a religious pilgrimage.
Before becoming a – professional footballer— in 1970 with Nimes, Adams was the first license pupil at Cepoy, then later joined Montargis. He was also two twice finalists of the French amateur championship.
Wining the central defense in Nimes, Adams join the French team during the tour of the blues in Brazil, which eventually led to 22 appearances by him in the French team. Following some time under the colors of Nice, Adams was hired by Paris Saint-Germain for three seasons, where he stays until 1979 to join Mulhouse then FC Chalon-sur-Saone as a player-coach.

“He was formidable, very patriotic, and it was a pleasure playing with him. He started as a forward but then played at the back”, a man who coached France at the 1986 world cup shared with CNN.

While playing for France, the former international French player formed the “Garde Noire”— “Black Guard”—a central defensive partnership with Marius Tresor of Brazilian Pele.
A defensive pairing that German world cup winner Franz Beckenbauer described as “the best central defensive pairing of all of Europe” paved the way for France’s success in the 1998 world cup.

Then 34, Jean’s career was going well until a routine operation went wrong in 1982 when doctors at the Lyon hospital were on strike.

The love that never died

Having been in a coma for 39 years, Jean has always been cared for by his wife, Bernadette. With unfailing love, Bernadette spent time dressing, feeding, bathing her husband, among others. In an interview with CNN in 2016, Bernadette spoke about taking care of Jean and their lives before the turn of unfortunate things.

“One never forgets to give Jean- Pierre presents, whether it’s his birthday, charismas or father’s day. We buy presents like t-shirts or a jumper because I dressed him in his bed—he changes clothes every day”, his wife told CNN.

Meeting in the late 1960s when Jean was an amateur player, the two settled down despite challenges they faced as a mixed-race couple. Since then, Bernadette never left Adam’s sight despite difficult moments.

He senses that it is not me feeding him and looking after him. It’s the nurses who tell me saying he is not the same. I think he recognized the sound of my voice as well”, said Bernadette, who was 52 at the time of the interview.

Waking up at seven o’clock to look after her husband, Bernadette thought that science would one day evolve to find his husband a solution which ended in just hoping. Despite the incident occurring in 1982, it was in 1989 that the medical staff was found guilty.

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