Jean-Pierre Adams: Former France international dies after 39 years in coma

He was operated under anesthesia at the Hospital de Lyon on March 17, 1982, Jean-Pierre Adams fell into a coma for 39 years.

Jean-Pierre Adams in a file photo, Image credit: Twitter
By Amruth Kalidas | Sep 6, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Former French footballer Jean-Pierre Adams, who had been in a coma for 39 years, has died at the age of 73 on Monday. Jean-Pierre Adams was injured during a match with Chalon. Operated under anaesthesia at the Hospital de Lyon on March 17, 1982, Jean-Pierre Adams fell into a coma. In a state of coma for more than 39 years, Jean-Pierre Adams lived in the suburbs of Nimes, his wife Bernadette watching by his side.


Born in Senegal, the defender made more than 140 appearances for Nice and also played for Paris St-Germain and Nimes. Defender of the French team, Jean-Pierre Adams had worn the Parisian colours from 1977 to 1979.

At the age of 8, Adams had left Senegal. Twice finalist of the French Amateur Championship, Adams caught attention of Nimes and turned professional in 1970. After Nimes, it is under the colors of Nice that he continued his progress. In 1977, Paris Saint-Germain signed him for three seasons. Later in 1979, he left Paris and joined Mulhouse then FC Chalon-sur-Saone, as a player-coach.

In a statement, PSG said Adams’ “joie de vivre, charisma and experience commanded respect”.

Nice said the club would pay tribute to Adams before their next home game against Monaco on September 19. Adams also made 84 appearances for Nimes, who said they were sending their “most sincere condolences to his loved ones and his family”.

On 17 March 1982, the former France international footballer Jean-Pierre Adams, at the age of 34, was admitted to a Lyon hospital to undergo a routine knee operation. He was given anaesthetic that should have knocked him out for a few hours but, more than 30 years later, he has yet to awake.

Adams is a figure who drifts in and out of the consciousness of the French public but who is largely forgotten outside his homeland, despite being a highly-regarded figure as a pioneer for French-African footballers.


Bernadette Adams, wife of Adams is a remarkable woman. Bernadette had a house custom-built, which she named Mas du bel athléte dormant — the House of the Beautiful Sleeping Athlete. It had been a struggle to get a loan in place, however, as she had fallen into difficult financial circumstances.

Various bodies came forward to help, with Nîmes and PSG both offering 15,000 francs, while the French football federation gave her F6,000 per week after an initial contribution of F25,000 in December 1982.

In addition, Adams’s former clubs played charity matches. The Variétés Club de France, a charitable organisation still running today and backed by Platini, Zinedine Zidane and Jean-Pierre Papin, played a fixture in the comatose player’s honour against a group of his footballing friends.

The media, meanwhile, kept his memory alive with glowing testimonies. “[Adams] was the prototype of a modern-day midfielder,” wrote the journalist Victor Sinet. “He was always available, omnipresent and just as effective going forward as he was defending.”