Former PSG and France, Jean Pierre Adams, dies after 39 years in a coma

Former PSG figure, Jean Pierre Adams, dies after 39 years in a coma | GETTY

Jean Pierre Adams, former defender of the French team Paris Saint Germain in the 70s, passed away this Monday at the age of 73 at the University Hospital in Nîmes, according to the French newspaper L’equipe.

The former footballer had been in a deep coma since 1982 due to an error in the dose of anesthetic drugs that he was administered prior to surgery on his knee at the Édouard Herriot Hospital in Lyon. Adams’s history in the world of football began when he was just 10 years old when he moved to France from his native Senegal, starting his football career at Nimes, continuing much of his career at OGC Nice

At the age of 29 he was signed by PSG. Then, played in the French national team, making a defensive pair with Maurius Trésor, known as “The Black Guard”.

However, his life was cut short due to medical negligence when he had to undergo surgery due to a torn ligament on March 17, 1982. 

Jean-Pierre Adams (top left) who passed away after spending 39 years in a coma/ GETTY

His wife, Bernadette Adams, cared for him, not losing hope that her husband would wake up again. According to reports from The Sun, in March this year, Adams was unable to communicate, but was breathing, eating and coughing without the need for medical equipment.

He isn't plugged into anything! I don’t have the courage to stop giving him food and water. 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 ”, Bernadette pointed out to the British media.

Tragic mistakes behind Jean-Pierre Adams' 39-year coma 

When Jean-Pierre Adams was admitted to a Lyon hospital for knee surgery in March 1982 he would have hoped that a troublesome issue would be resolved.

Now 34, Adams had enjoyed a successful playing career in France, taking in spells at Nice and Paris Saint-Germain as well as 22 caps for the French national team, who he had opted to play for having left Senegal for Europe with his family when he was just 10.

Adams had begun to take up coaching, and it was on a coaching training camp that the knee injury flared up, with surgery required on his damaged tendon.

The mistakes that happened during his stay in hospital would lead to Adams being in a coma for over half of his life.

On the day of Adams' operation - which was not urgent - many of the Lyon hospital staff were on strike.

His wife Bernadette insisted that they could and should have cancelled the procedure, but with one anaesthetist looking after eight patients and the former footballer supervised by a trainee, catastrophic mistakes were made.

Intubated poorly, Adams suffered a cardiac arrest and brain damage, with the errors made causing him to be starved of oxygen. The trainee quickly admitted blame, saying "I was not up to the task I was entrusted with", but it would be over 10 years before any punishment was meted out.

Both the anaesthetist and the trainee were given one month suspended sentences and fines of around €750, with Adams staying in hospital for the next 15 months.

Bernadette was then told to consider putting her husband in a home, but she insisted on caring for him at their house in Nimes, where the couple have lived for the remainder of their marriage, right up until Adams' death, which has led to tributes from his former clubs and teammates.

PSG said Adams': "joie de vivre, charisma and experience commanded respect", while Nice and Nimes, another former club, have offered their condolences to the family.


"He was a force of nature, very strong physically, and he had great determination and willingness,"  former France teammates of Adams', said.

"He was formidable, very patriotic and it was a pleasure to play with him. "He started as a forward but then played at the back."

"At the time, a black man and a white woman being together wasn't well-regarded. "But we began to live together and then decided to marry. I wrote to my parents giving the news, the wedding date and an invitation, and my mother invited us to dinner.

"After that, everything was fine and he was seen in a better light than me: 'Jean-Pierre, Jean-Pierre' - they only spoke of Jean-Pierre!"

Jean-Pierre and Bernadette were together right up until the former footballer's death on Monday, the Frenchwoman part of a 52-year marriage during which she spent the vast majority tending to her husband, staying by his side, talking to him, dressing him and buying him presents at Christmas and on his birthday.

Over the years it has often been put to her that she could leave Jean-Pierre's care to others, or even consider euthanasia, but she steadfastly refused. She stayed with him right until the end, with Adams' death being met with an outpouring of grief in France.

Adams' fierce character was needed both on the pitch and off, as he faced scrutiny and suspicion over his relationship with Bernadette, who he met at a dance in Paris in 1968.

"I can't hide the fact that it was very difficult for my family at the beginning," Bernadette recalls.

Tributes have followed from his former clubs Nimes, Nice and PSG, as they all pay respects to a pioneer who paved the way for French-African footballers. Adams made 84 appearances for Nimes, with the club expressed their "most sincere condolences to his loved ones and his family". 

Nice promised a tribute before their next home game against Monaco on September 19. 

PSG released a statement echoing similar sentiments, adding that Adams' "joie de vivre, charisma and experience commanded respect".

Published/Update on 07/09/[email protected] 08:31

Claude B Djaquis