Jean-Pierre Adams, ex-soccer player, dies after 39 years in coma

Jean-Pierre Adams, the former French soccer player who spent 39 years in a coma following a routine knee surgery that went terribly wrong, died Monday.

He was 73.

“We learned this morning of the passing of Jean-Pierre Adams,” read a statement from Nimes, for whom Adams played from 1970 to 1973. “He had worn the colors of Nimes Olympique 84 times and with Marius Trésor made up ‘the black guard’ of the French team.

“The club offers its most sincere condolences to his loved ones and his family.”

One of the first black players to compete for France, Adams fell into a coma on March 17, 1982 while undergoing a routine operation on a knee tendon that was damaged in a match.

Several workers at the hospital Adams was being operated on were on strike, according to CNN, which led to an anesthetic error.

Jean-Pierre Adams
Jean-Pierre Adams
AFP via Getty Images

“The female anesthetist was looking after eight patients, one after the other, like an assembly line,” his wife Bernadette told the outlet in 2016. “Jean-Pierre was supervised by a trainee, who was repeating a year, who later admitted in court: ‘I was not up to the task I was entrusted with.’”

Adams had been lying in a coma at his home in Nimes, where he was cared by his wife, for nearly four decades.

After starting his career in Fontainebleau, where he helped the local side win its amateur championship, Adams was spotted by Nimes.

He scored 10 goals in 98 matches for Nimes and 17 goals in 150 games for Nice.

The Senegal native amassed 22 caps for the French national team, as well.

“Nice was heartbroken to learn of the passing of Jean-Pierre Adams,” Nice wrote on Twitter, “The former defender wore the colors of the Gym 145 times from 1973 to 1977. OGC Nice stands with the pain of his relatives who have looked after him for 39 years.”

Nice added that a tribute will be paid to Adams at their home match against Monaco on Sept. 19.