Togolese international striker Francis Koné made international news when last week in a game between Slovácko and Bohemians, he rushed to the aid of the opposing goalkeeper, who'd been knocked unconscious in a collision with a teammate.
Koné prevented the Bohemians keeper from swallowing his tongue, according to various reports.
In an interview with the Guardian, he said that this was actually the fourth time that he'd had to do this after an on-field collision or incident that left a player unconscious and in risk of choking. He's now done it once in Thailand, and twice back at home in Togo.
He said: "It's strange. When it happened the first time I didn't tell my mother because I didn't want to scare her. The second time I told her and she warned me it would keep happening, and I should be careful. Always be wary. Never run away if something bad happens out on the pitch. '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'."
Remarkably, some Bohemians fans later admitted that they had spent the preceding minutes of the game taunting Koné with racist chants, before watching him rush to the aid of their stricken goalkeeper.
When asked about the difficulty of playing through some of the racist abuse that is hurled at players — a persistent problem in some Eastern European countries — Kone said:
"When you're an African, a black man, and you play in a country like this ... well, it's not like going to play in France or Belgium. Even if things are improving, they're still not very open, and that's why the racism happens. It's still a bit behind. When I'm on the pitch I try not to pay attention to it. But it's hard. Racism makes me sick. It hurts. It's frustrating for us, as African players, to hear things like 'monkey' or 'black' being shouted at us. You have to be there, out on the pitch, and have it directed at you to really understand how it makes you feel.
"What can we do about it? I don't know, but maybe what happened last weekend will help a bit. I've had messages from a few Bohemians fans. Two apologised to me on social media, saying they'd heard racist chants but then they saw an African saving one of their players and had thought about what they'd done. I don't know whether that's true or not, but I've seen their messages, and I hope it is."
The Bohemians keeper Martin Berkovec has reportedly made a full recovery, and has invited Koné to dinner when he's next in town.Suggest a correction