In 2014, Rory Curtis woke up from a coma at a hospital in Birmingham, England.
He didn’t know where he was, and he didn’t remember who he was. When he started speaking, perfect French came out instead of English. A language he had learned in school but had since completely forgotten.
A French-speaking nurse even asked Curtis where in France the patient was from. But the French flood lasted only a moment. Then language skills were in their way again.
- When I heard about the case, my father investigated. Our family is originally from Normandy, but we were there in the 19th century. If you search YouTube on my name, there are conspiracy theories that the brain can store information from generations. Crazy, Curtis tells the BBC six years after the special incident.
Rory Curtis posed with a French dictionary, baguettes and croissants in December 2014.
Instead of Normandy, he had grown up in Redditch, in western central England.
Curtis was plunged into a coma after a car accident. He played football for a semi-professional team at the time.
After one match, he collided with another vehicle on the highway in bad weather in his car. Curtis, 22, was the only one in a six-car mass crash to be seriously injured.
Firefighters detached him from the tin scrap for 40 minutes. In addition to a broken hip and elbow, Curtis suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and brain injury. He was persuaded into a coma already at the scene of the accident.
At the hospital, the coma was continued for another six days. After the patient woke up and rehabilitation began, doctors did not believe that Curtis would ever speak or walk normally again.
Rory Curtis photographed at the hospital in August 2012 about a day after he woke up from a coma.
In addition to speaking French, the beginning was difficult anyway.
At one point, Curtis believed he was a 10-year-old child. Even more bizarre was the situation when he imagined he was Hollywood star Matthew McConaughey, who starred in the movie Interstellar in the year of the accident.
Curtis was in a hurry on his hospital bed to get to shoot the next hit movie.
- Because my hands and hips were broken, my mother helped me to the bathroom. I remember looking in the mirror and not figuring out who was looking back from there, Curtis recalls.
Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar (2014).
Photo: Warner Bros.
After leaving the hospital, the young man's local memory was so fragile that he wrote down every 15 minutes what he had done. For example, he might write down that he had already taken a shower.
To the surprise of the doctors, Curtis fully recovered within a year. Today, she owns her own barber shop in Worcester.
In addition, he has already had time to continue playing football, stop it once, and start again. Now, though, he only plays seven-on-seven matches for fun.
Years before the accident, Curtis was considered a promising football player. Manchester United attracted him to his academy at the age of 13.
At the player’s request, United allowed him to continue to develop closer to home at the Walsall Academy. There, Curtis played in a dangerous top pair with a boy named Troy Deeney. Deeney was promoted to the reserve team with Curtis injured.
Deeney is the Premier League Watford captain today.
Troy Deeney is a Premier League star.
Photo: Glyn Kirk / AFP / Journal
- Football is about timing. From the right place and the right moment. I would have had my chance. I can’t say I’d be where Troy is now, but we would both have had our chance, Curtis claims to the BBC.
Instead of gaining fame and glory, Curtis lost his passion for football over the years.
The last thing he remembers from the day before the crash is that he had to miss his match in a small team called Stourport Swifts due to a back injury.
A fractured tailbone was found on post-accident X-rays.
Rory Curtis as a teenager wearing a Manchester United net jacket.