Football legend thanks his saviour
Rufer ‘grey’ and lifeless but CPR rescuer rises to occasion, writes Phillip Rollo.
New Zealand’s greatest footballer has thanked the man who saved his life, a week after suffering a heart attack on a Lime e-scooter and collapsing in a busy Auckland street.
All Whites legend Wynton Rufer was riding back from watching a Breakers basketball game at Spark Arena last Sunday when he suffered the heart attack.
Speaking from Auckland City Hospital yesterday, he said he’d been in a coma until Monday and ‘‘la-la land’’ until Thursday so it was only yesterday he had been able to phone the man who had come to his rescue, 35-year-old Aucklander Nick Moss.
Rufer is expected to make a full recovery but said he felt ‘‘very lucky to be alive’’.
‘‘He has probably saved my life. I can’t believe I’ve had a heart attack,’’ Rufer said.
‘‘I’ve obviously just blacked out because I remember going around the corner really slow . . . but then I don’t remember any more after that. Nick was bashing away at my chest to keep me alive while the ambulance came and they applied a defibrillator three times. I woke up on ICU on Monday.’’
Moss said yesterday that he hadn’t recognised Rufer right away but had simply gone to help when he’d heard the screams for help from Rufer’s German friend Florian Wellmann, who’d been following Rufer home from the basketball. He said he’d been confident he could help the 56-yearold because he’d attended a St John Ambulance first aid course only three months ago.
‘‘As we pulled up, there was a woman on the phone in one hand and pushing on his chest on the other.’’
By the time Moss arrived, Rufer was unconscious on the ground so he said he started performing CPR while the woman called 111.
‘‘I thought this was quite serious so I said ‘I’ve done first aid training, I’ll jump on and do this while you call the ambulance’. At that stage he wasn’t breathing, he didn’t have any life in him, he was in a bad way.
‘‘It was hard to recognise him. He had turned quite grey. It was about five minutes from when I got there that the ambulance got there but I’m so thankful they could get there so quickly.’’
It was only after he’d found Rufer’s ID that Moss realised he’d come to the rescue of a soccer star he’d grown up watching on TV.
Rufer played 23 times for New Zealand, including at the 1982 World Cup, and was a star in European club football in both Switzerland and Germany in the 1980s and 90s, when he played for marquee club Werder Bremen.
Wynton Rufer, right, and Florian Wellmann at the Breakers game shortly before Rufer’s heart attack.