Soccer Player Helps Save a Life—Again

Francis Kone prevents unconscious goalie from swallowing his tongue
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2017 2:13 PM CST

(Newser) – At a soccer game in Prague last week, one of the goalies had a violent head-on collision with a teammate and fell to the ground in a heap. Opposing player Francis Kone of Togo didn't miss a beat. Injured goalie Martin Berkovec "was still, lying on his back, and I could see the whites of his eyes," Kone recounts to the Guardian. Berkovec had swallowed his tongue, and Kone knew time was short. "I planted one foot across his chest to keep his left arm tightly in—sometimes the body can convulse, becomes really strong, and you can’t always control it—and tried to force my fingers into his mouth." He eventually succeeded, even getting bit in the process, but Berkovec could breathe again. (See the video.) The amazing reason Kone was so matter-of-fact in the tense situation? It was the fourth time the 26-year-old had saved another player like that.

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"Twice in Africa, once in Thailand," he says of the first three, per ESPN. After the second time, his mother predicted it would happen again and encouraged him to keep lending a hand. '"You can’t just wait for someone else to step up,’ she said, so when it happened the third time it was: ‘I told you so.'" After the latest incident, the opposing coach, the medical staff, and, when he recovered, Berkovec publicly credited Kone. "I would like to thank Francis Kone for his quick action in saving me during today's match," the 28-year-old goalie wrote. "I am grateful for the prompt help, and once again THANK YOU!!!" The incident occurred about 30 minutes into the game, and fans had previously been showering Kone with racist chants of "Monkey!" when he touched the ball. The rescue brought an end to that, per a post at Vanguard. (Read more soccer stories.)

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