SCOTTISH football referee Hugh Dallas was thanked yesterday for

helping save the life of a young Czechoslovak player.

Martin Svedik, a midfielder with Banik Ostrava, was flown by air

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ambulance from Toulon, in France, to Prague yesterday with a broken neck

after an incident involving a Portugese player.

The injury happened near the end of a game in the Toulon Under-21

International Tournament on Friday night.

Mr Dallas, who was a linesman at the match, said yesterday: ''I saw

the Portugese player smash his forearm into the Czech player's neck as

the play moved upfield. He fell like a log. I knew it was serious as he

was totally motionless.''

Mr Dallas waved for 40 seconds to attract the referee's attention and

get play stopped.

Svedik, 19, lay unconscious for 10 minutes until an ambulance arrived

on the pitch. He was taken to hospital in Toulon for emergency surgery.

A spokesman said that if Svedik had been moved, or pulled to his feet,

death or paralysis could have resulted. He added that the player was

expected to make a full recovery.

The Portuguese player involved, Sergio Nunes, of Leixoes, was

immediately banned from competing in the remainder of the tournament.

Czech coach Ivan Kopecky said before leaving yesterday: ''We are very

grateful to Mr Dallas. But for his swift intervention, the injury to our

player could have had much more serious consequences.''