SCOTTISH football referee Hugh Dallas was thanked yesterday for helping save the life of a young Czechoslovak player.
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Martin Svedik, a midfielder with Banik Ostrava, was flown by air 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.''