Monday 27 February 2023, 21:10

Unassuming hero receives special award

  • Luka Lochoshvili presented with FIFA Fair Play Award

  • The Georgian defender likely saved an opponent’s life

  • “Anybody would have reacted the same way in that situation”

Exactly one year ago, on 27 February 2022, the Austrian Bundesliga match between Austria Vienna and Wolfsberger AC was drawing to a close when football suddenly became irrelevant. While challenging for the ball, Austria winger Georg Teigl collided with the knee of his opponent Nikolas Veratschnig, lost consciousness and slumped motionless onto the turf.

As most players stood frozen in shock, Wolfsberg defender Luka Lochoshvili recognised the seriousness of the situation and sprang into action. With Teigl at risk of choking, the 23-year-old Georgian bravely reached into his mouth and removed his tongue from his throat.

Teigl, who suffered a skull fracture as well as a broken cheekbone and jaw in the incident, was helped off the pitch by paramedics after receiving lengthy medical treatment, while fans, team-mates and opponents alike recognised Lochoshvili for his lifesaving intervention by warmly applauding and embracing him. The day’s emotional events meant little attention was paid to the sporting outcome of the match, which ended in a 1-0 win to Austria Vienna.

Reflecting on the dramatic scenes after the game, Wolfsberg coach Robin Dutt said: “It was an incredible feat from Luca. In all honesty, I think that was the most important moment on the pitch today.” Austria boss Manfred Schmid was similarly full of praise for the young Georgian. “It was a very dramatic moment. We can only congratulate and thank Lochoshvili for what he did. Even if you have the right training, it’s not always easy to step up when a situation like that presents itself.”

Several hours after the incident, Teigl himself took to Instagram to express his gratitude for the hero of the hour: “THANK YOU Luka Lochoshvili for your quick reactions. Your intervention may well have saved my life.”

Despite all of the acclaim and acknowledgement heaped upon him, Lochoshvili’s reaction was a modest one. “Fortunately, I knew what had to be done, and I think I got hold of his tongue in the nick of time,” said the Georgian, who has now been recognised for his exemplary behaviour with the FIFA Fair Play Award at The Best FIFA Football Awards™ in Paris.

Unfortunately Lochoshvili could not make the trip to Paris to receive the award in person, but he commented via a video call. "This is a huge honour for me, I would like to thank you for this award," he said. "I'm very happy about that, but even happier that I was able to save Georg's life. The most important things in football are fair play and respect."