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The player who has saved the lives of four people on the pitch

Matt Morley by Matt Morley @rfutbol - 0 +10k

Pin Kone was quick to stop Berkovec from swallowing his tongue. AFP
Kone was quick to stop Berkovec from swallowing his tongue. AFP

The player who has saved the lives of four people on the pitch

Matt Morley by Matt Morley @rfutbol - 0 +10k

Togo international Francis Kone isn't the best known player in world football, but he has certainly had a huge impact on the lives of fellow professionals.

Kone won FIFA's Fair Play award in October after he saved the life Bohemians goalkeeper Martin Berkovec during a Czech league game earlier this year.

The striker was playing for Slovacko FC at the time and he was the first on the scene when the stopper collided with one of his own defenders, leaving him unconscious.

The Togolese immediately put his fingers in Berkovec's mouth to prevent him from swallowing his tongue, arguably saving his life.

Kone's actions led to widespread praise, but what many people don't know is that it was the fourth time that the striker has sprung into action in such a manner.

The Togo international was surprised to have been given the award, but hopes that his prize can help to overcome racism in football, with Kone having been the victim of racis abuse earlier in the game.

"I was very surprised (to win the award). It was like a dream," he explained.

"It is a message. Fair play means something like this too - to stop racism, this is fair play.

"I know what they said because they called my club to apologise. They said thanks because I saved one of their players. They apologised because they were saying bad things, like monkey and many other things.

"It's not normal to treat a person as like a monkey - it's incorrect. Football is fair play and I showed them that. Football is not what they are doing with racism. They have to stop it - for me, that's the message."

Nevertheless, since that fateful day there has certainly been a change in the way people look at Kone, with a trip to Prague to face Slavia with new side FC Zbrojovka in October beoing a fine demonstration of his new-found celebrity status. 

"Now there is more respect because the way they looked at me and treated me before is not the same as the way as they look at me and treat me now. Now there is more friendliness, a better relationship. For them, I am famous," he said.

"I was warming up and I could hear the fans say 'it's that guy who saved Martin' and after that, they started clapping and chanting 'Francis' - not my fans, but the fans of Slavia," he said of that game in Prague.

"The feeling made me like 'Oh My God' and I was not concentrating on warming up - I was away - because it was amazing, very amazing."

Kone's hands are covered in scars from where people have bitten him when he has saved their lives, not that Kone cares too much.

"They are fighting for their lives," he explained.

"Martin bit me but the second guy bit me so much - it was horrible. All his mouth was blood - blood from his mouth, blood from my fingers."

Berkovec has since admitted to 'BBC Sport' that the pair still meet up to go for a coffee every now and again.

"Unfortunately my English is not that good, or it's as good as his Czech, but we talk somehow so we go for a coffee," Berkovec said.

"I remember only what happened before the collision and then I blacked out. The following day I saw what had happened, through the media, and it was horrible. I thank him for saving my life.

"He also got the (Fifa) prize for it so I congratulate him, even though it would be much better if that hadn't happened at all."

Despite his hero status, Kone is hoping that he never has to spring into action again.

"I don't want this to happen again - really - because it's so dangerous and so horrible," he explained. "But if it happens, I have to do what I can do."

Matt Morley

Matt Morley

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